Vasturia Will Be Missed, But Run Isn't Over Yet
Tony Sagona may not have been the first to realize exactly the kind of potential Steve Vasturia had as a basketball player, but the coach of the Jersey Shore Warriors was definitely an early investor in Vasturia’s talents.
“He played for me in the eighth grade and I played him in the championship tournament of 17-and-unders,” Sagona said. “You could see it back then.”
Kids that young generally don't see much action at the most competitive level of AAU. But it didn’t take long for a then-Notre Dame baller to recognize the talents of the future Notre Dame baller.
“I won’t forget we were practicing in the eighth grade,” Sagona recalled. “They were playing fullcourt and Matty Carroll was working out.
“He said, ‘Coach, this kid is going to be some player.’ This is in the eighth grade and it’s hard to figure that out. He just had it.”
Sagona said Vasturia continued to develop at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia.
“You could see it through his high school,” the summer coach said. “He had a great coach at the high school level with Speedy Morris.”
And obviously, Vasturia has continued that through four seasons at Notre Dame, which is in the home stretch here in his final March with the program.
He was named Newcomer of the Year for the Irish as a freshman and then grabbed Defensive Player of the Year honors for Notre Dame as a sophomore and junior. He was an ACC All-Tournament performer as a sophomore when the Irish won the league’s tournament title.
He was an integral part of Notre Dame’s back-to-back Elite Eight runs the past two years.
“He’s had an amazing career,” Sagona said. “Mike Brey has said it many times, ‘Maybe one of the best he’s had at that program.’
“Obviously, their win-loss record, you can attribute that to him. He’s always covered the best players on the other team. He played a ton of minutes. I think he hit a little bit of a wall at times every now and then because he was tired. There’s just so much he did. I think he’s also been a great role model for the school. There’s never any controversy, he’s just a great character kid. He’s got a bright future ahead of him after this too.”
Vasturia has a chance to add a second ACC Tournament title to that résumé with tonight’s game against Duke before one final March Madness run beginning next week.
Hard work, guts and just being a good person has resulted in Vasturia being a natural leader and one the Irish will miss whenever this season ends.
“He’s a good kid and people are going to follow him, people follow that lead; when they see somebody work and see that they’re a good person and accomplishing stuff. He’s not the most athletic kid in the world, but he gets it done.”