New recruit ignites East Bay hoops


Myles Watkins,
Staff Writer

Coming out of the small northern California town of Fall River Mills, east of Redding.  One of the newest members of Cal State East Bay’s men’s basketball team, Justin Vigil, seems like your typical university freshman. He is a fan of Iron Man, enjoys watching Netflix, “Last Chance U” is his favorite, spending time with his roommates, and fishes in his spare time. Other than his 6’7” frame, he may seem like an everyday 18-year-old. However, his work ethic, humility, and confidence make him more than meets the eye.

I asked the question, what was your favorite part of your game?’ He responded with, “My defense and my work ethic.”
He continued, “I can’t control what my teammates do on the court or even If I am scoring well but I can control how hard I work. Nothing can stop you from controlling that.”

No wonder why Vigil’s favorite NBA player is San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, a two-time National Basketball Association Defensive Player of the Year award winner, is well-known league-wide for his otherworldly work ethic. A school official of Kawhi Leonard’s Alma Mater San Diego State University stated that there were, “complaints from the staff at Viejas Arena that Leonard was getting into the building during off hours, sometimes bringing lamps from his dorm room to illuminate the darkness.”

Vigil’s work ethic has already become evident to Cal State East Bay’s first-year assistant coach Jordan Lee, who stated that he has “a high motor for sure.” With Kawhi Leonard’s work ethic serving as a model for Vigil’s game, the sky’s the limit for the freshmen forward.
The similarities between Leonard and Vigil don’t end there. Leonard is also known for his quiet demeanor on and off of the basketball court, electing to let his plays speak for him rather than his voice. Steve Fisher, Leonard’s college basketball coach, stated, “I’ve never had anyone, ever, who was consumed with being the best they could possibly be like Kawhi. You have a lot that will talk a good game. But he doesn’t want to talk about what he’s doing. He just wants to do it.”

This is also what I noticed in Vigil during our interview. Never once during our interview did he boast about his merits.
Instead, he was always focused on speaking about his team’s collective efforts, despite being the offensive and defensive leader of the team. You may expect that after winning a section title in football and basketball within two years, Vigil and the Fall River Mills boy’s athletic department would have no issue speaking about their dominance but it’s simple, not true. All growing up together from the age of 11, the Fall River Mills High School boy’s basketball team was instilled with the attributes of humility and a strong work ethic from a young age. Vigil expressed, “It was such a team effort that we had seven or eight guys that could play.”

Vigil could have talked about how he leads his 30 win basketball team in all major statistical categories, was a part of three section championship teams, split two different sports, was an All-League basketball selection 2015-16, was awarded his section 2017 Basketball League MVP while also named a 2017 Golf All-League selection, received the Carson’s Scholarship in 2015 for academic excellence and was the 2016-17 Fundraising Commissioner for the Student Body of Fall River High School. But he didn’t. For Vigil, how he can help and positively influence his team regardless of accolades is the goal. All in all, it’s great to see a young man so humble awarded for his work.

Along with the values and work ethic that the Fall River community instilled in Justin, Vigil’s growth in confidence could be attributed to a single program: The Future Farmers of America (FFA). FFA is an organization that promotes premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

“FFA was an empowering experience,” Vigil said. Through speech competitions including impromptu, extemporaneous and prepared as well as mock job interviews, Vigil gained the confidence to not only join the East Bay community but also establish himself as a natural leader on his sports teams as well as student government along the way.

For Vigil, like Leonard, it has never been about the trophies he could collect or the honors he could win because with the foundation of a rock solid work ethic, humility, and confidence, accolades seem to follow. After understanding what made Justin Vigil “Justin Vigil,” my eyes were opened to the reality that Vigil’s hard work in his athletic career and in all facets of his life would give him many avenues for the success he has and will certainly continue to experience.

Today, Vigil is working to become physically stronger to contend with NCAA DII competition as well as fitting in nicely with his teammates. Although one of the newest members of the CSUEB men’s basketball team, one could bet that with his on-court success in high school and his ever-growing confidence he will become a leader in the locker room and on the court sooner rather than later.
Catch the first action for the men’s team during the Pioneer Challenge on Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. in Hayward.