Two years ago, Nate Renfro was a 5-foot-9-inch point guard on Sahuaro’s freshman boys basketball team.
Now, after growing nine inches, Renfro has emerged as the star for the Division II top-ranked Cougars.
The 6-6 small forward is arguably the top junior in Southern Arizona and is a focal point for Sahuaro on both ends of the court. He leads the Cougars (13-3) with 12 points a game, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals. He is shooting 57 percent from the field and 74 from the free-throw line, and is second on the team with 6.6 rebounds a game.
Sahuaro coach Jim Henry loves Renfro’s abilities on the floor but believes the player’s best attribute is his attitude.
“He’s always about team, never about individual,” Henry said. “That’s very important. For him to put the team first, it really helps make us better.”
The Star recently sat down with Renfro to find out more about him as the Cougars open up the second half of their season tonight when they host Empire at 7:30. Here are five things to know:
Doctors have told Renfro, who has played basketball since he was 5, that he’ll probably grow a few more inches, possibly to 6-9. Additionally, Renfro wants to add another 25 pounds to his frame once the season is over.
NOT ALWAYS EASY
Renfro went through an awkward stage because of his sudden growth spurt. He had to re-learn basics such as dribbling and jumping.
“I was falling all over the place,” Renfro said. “I couldn’t dribble, I couldn’t do anything; I was just turning the ball over. It was hard for me because I’ve always been a good ball-handler. It’s helped me in the long run.”
TAKING OVER THE GAME
At the Safeway Classic this season, Renfro nearly pulled off a huge triple-double. He had 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against Canyon del Oro.
On Dec. 19 at Amphitheater, the Cougars were down by 17 points and stormed back to win 79-78. Renfro scored 21 points and pulled down 13 boards. He added three steals and three blocks.
Recently, the Cal Poly coaching staff visited a Sahuaro practice while in town to face UA. The coaches left impressed and have him atop their recruiting list. The staff was most impressed by Renfro’s communication in practice, even when he wasn’t involved in the play.
“They told me they couldn’t even get some of their on guys to engage like that in practice, so they were impressed a junior in high school was,” Renfro said.
MORE THAN JUST SKILL
Renfro is No. 1 in his class at Sahuaro in terms of academics, and his 4.0 grade-point average has opened up doors for him in recruiting. He has already received offers from Colgate, Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado.
In addition to Cal Poly, he has drawn interest from several Ivy League schools and is beginning to get some looks from a few Pac-12 schools, including Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
Renfro is planning on studying international business in college and possibly opening his own company some day. But before deciding on his future, he wants to see how far his other dream can take him.
“I may do that,” Renfro said. “It depends on how much I improve at basketball.”