Once in a while a coach comes across a player that sets the pace for the team, sets the bar high and challenges everyone around him to keep up. A player that can set the foundation for future teams. As the Minarets Mustangs basketball team (11-8, 5-3 WSL) prepares for play-offs, it will be senior Austin Pimentel who will be expected to provide the spark that makes the engine fire for the team.
Pimentel, a transfer from Hughson, is averaging 22 points a game and leads coach Paul Varner's team in scoring, assists and steals while also leading the team in 3-point shots, averaging four a contest. As deadly as his aim is, it didn't come easy for the point guard. His work ethic is undeniable and his unselfishness dishing the ball to teammates is everything a coach could hope for.
His driving force started at a young age, watching his older brother Chris. Pimentel spent his youth trying to "one up" his older brother -- call it a "brother rivalry." That rivalry set him on a successful path with his sixth and eighth grade teams going undefeated. He received MVP recognition on both squads.
As a freshman at Hughson High, then played on the JV team and went on to win yet another MVP honor. His sophomore season saw him sidelined with a broken vertebrae and he spent the summer in a back brace. His junior year, it was back on the court and another MVP trophy to add to his collection along to being selected to the All League team.
"I was sad to see Austin leave," said Hughson High basketball coach Nathan Govett. "Not just because how he helped the basketball program but because he was such a great kid. It was Austin's love of the game, competitiveness, willingness to accept coaching and skill at the point guard position that led me to pull him up to varsity as a sophomore. Even though he dealt with a serious back injury, Austin used that time to see things from a coaches perspective and learned a lot about what it takes to become successful."
Pimentel has been the missing link to the Minarets team that is now a league contender. The 5-foot-9 senior sets the foundation for the program that has been dazzling fans at Minarets since his arrival. He has the knack for hitting clutch shots at just the right time. The son of Janeene Bebout and Steve Pimentel, he carries a 4.2 GPA and is pursuing a major in electrical engineering with a minor in pharmaceuticals following graduation.