posted 2012-03-07 20:40:57

Player Profile: Jeff Daza of Men’s Basketball

Senior sharpshooter looks to end career with a title

Joseph Richards, Contributing Writer

For many, basketball is more than a game. For Hunter colleges’ senior guard, Jeff Daza, basketball is life. “Basketball is a passion that I crave for daily. Without basketball, I wouldn’t be the man that I am today,” he said.

Daza’s basketball career began at New York City’s Murry Bergtraum High School. As a freshman, he had a solid enough skill set to make it to the final round of cuts for Bertram’s varsity basketball team. Even though Daza didn’t initially make the squad, with a little bit of luck and hard work, he soon found himself working his way into the rotation and eventually taking hold of the starting point guard spot for the remainder of his freshman season.

After being moved to the off-guard spot his sophomore season, Daza developed his shooting as he deadly three-point range. He was named a captain for his final two years and finished his senior campaign averaging 15 points, 5 boards, and 5 assist per game.

“Every basketball players dream, coming out of high school, is to play division one basketball,” he said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t heavily recruited for any D1 programs. West Point was the only D1 School to recruit me, but I wasn’t interested in the commitment after my playing years were done.”

Without a spot on a college roster, Daza found himself playing pickup ball at a local church in uptown Manhattan. There, he caught the eye of a man named Johnny, who would later introduce him to then Hunter basketball coach, Nick Plevritis. Plevritis soon recruited Daza for a spot on the team.

Upon his arrival at Hunter, Daza had found himself in somewhat of a new situation, as he didn’t start or play major minutes immediately like he had at Bergtraum. “Every basketball players has a competitive edge to them, they expect to receive playing time as quick as possible. I thought that I was good enough to play right away, but our team was filled with upperclassmen and my role was to develop my game for the future.”

After putting countless hours of hard work after his first season to better position himself for a breakout sophomore year, Daza was meet with a major setback in the form of a torn ACL on the second day of practice. “Knowing that I had worked overtime in the summer with my conditioning, in the weight room, and on basketball drills, just dealing with the mental pain of not being able to play was what hurt the most,” he reflected.

One year later, Daza was able to bounce back from the injury with a solid junior season, highlighted by hitting a clutch three in the final minute of the CUNYAC quarterfinals that propelled the Hawks to an upset victory.

Now in his final season playing for Hunter, Daza is averaging close to 10 points a game while shooting almost 37% from downtown. He is working to lead the Hawks to what he sees as the team’s only goal, a CUNY championship. “Anything less that will be a disappointment,” he said.

At the end of this season, Daza’s playing career at Hunter will be set in stone. He said that he will be able to look back at his time as a Hawk as something that he will be able to cherish for the rest of his life. With the admission that he will probably never play competitive organized basketball again, Daza said that he hopes to incorporate his economics degree into some sorts of sporting job.

But for now, he is remaining focused on the task at hand. The CUNY playoffs begin on Feb. 18, and Daza and the Hawks are gunning for the title.