The 3rd Diaz brother

Spinnaker

Andy Diaz has become a star on the UNF campus since joining the Ospreys in 2009. Diaz has become one of the team's leading scorers and top rebounders.

Andres Diaz was just like any other kid. He spent his days playing outside with friends and going to school. He had idols, just like all kids, but Diaz received more from his idols than most kids do. Diaz received a future.

Diaz was 10 when he watched his father and older brother playing basketball outside.

“I always wanted to hang out and be like them,” Diaz said.

It was in high school, at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, that his basketball career took off. Diaz was named a McDonald’s All-American nominee and was a two-time team MVP. He helped guide his team to a 20-6 record as the team made it all the way to the regional quarterfinals.

As a senior, Diaz averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals. He also earned All-Dade County honors as both a junior and a senior. That’s when the phone calls began coming in.

Diaz had offers from other schools, but when UNF hired Matthew Driscoll late in the recruiting process, Diaz quickly became interested.

“We really liked what he was saying and how he wanted to build the culture and come win here while starting a tradition in UNF basketball,” said Diaz.

Diaz was excited to play for Driscoll, but he still enjoyed his time in high school.

“Everyone on the team lived right around each other. All of us went to our home school, and we had some success,” Diaz said. “I’m still friends with those guys to this day, and I still talk to my [high school] coach just about every week.”

After finishing a successful high school career, it was time to develop his game and education further. Diaz accepted a scholarship at UNF to become an Osprey and help Driscoll establish a tradition of winning at UNF.

Diaz’s younger brother, Adrian, plays for Kansas State University, and although his brother plays for a better-known school, Diaz said that he can beat the 6’10” freshmen one-on-one anywhere, anytime. Earlier this season, Adrian got the last laugh as KSU beat UNF in a 79-68 overtime thriller.

Today, Diaz is a junior, and at 6’ 7’’, he’s one of the more noticeable guys on campus. Despite his athletic ability, Diaz doesn’t believe he is much different from other students on campus.

He wakes up in the morning, plays a little “Call of Duty” and heads to study hall and classes. As a criminal justice major, Diaz hopes to one day use that degree toward a profession in the law enforcement field. But that will have to wait because, for now, Diaz is a little busy playing basketball.

As a student-athlete for a Division I school, the season can be difficult to balance. Diaz has classes every week. He does the same projects and essays everyone else has to do. However, Diaz has to participate in practice, meetings, shootarounds and games regularly. If those tasks aren’t difficult enough already, consider the fact that 17 of UNF’s 31 basketball games this season are on the road. “It’s very much like a business trip. We’re all very focused,” Diaz said.

Home games are a lot less stressful for the team. “Unfortunately, we still have to attend [class] on game days,” Diaz said.

The team has a shootaround at 2 p.m. before the pregame meal at 3 p.m. After that, it’s time for a nap before getting up and getting to the gym early. Diaz is a big supporter of the women’s basketball team and enjoys going early to watch them play. Around 6 p.m, it’s time to get taped up and play as the rest of the team and coaching staff arrives.

As students, there are plenty of things to enjoy about going to school in Jacksonville. The beach, the weather, the NFL team and the relaxed atmosphere. For Diaz, it’s the students.

“One thing we love about playing for UNF is the student support. We’re No. 1 in student
attendance in the conference,” Diaz said. “It’s always great playing in front of the fans. They’re great and they’re always swooping it up.”

Even when the Ospreys are not dominating on the court, they keep busy. The players have team workouts about twice a week during the season with Coach Fred Burnett, their athletic trainer. Burnett’s philosophy is “leaner, longer and athletic.” A lot of core work, shoulder work and lunges are the prescribed workout. Those lunges are something Diaz knows well.

“We do a lot of lunges — a lot of lunges. You’ve got to have legs because it’s a long season,” he said.

Diaz was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshmen team two years ago, and last year, he earned a spot on the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Tournament squad. So far this season, he seems headed toward a spot on another All-Conference squad.

Zach Morgan, Contributing Writer

Email Zach at sports.unfspinnaker.com
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