As a senior at St. Paul’s School in the New Orleans suburb of Covington, Louisiana, Harrison Prieto was named the district’s Most Valuable Player and a nola.com All-Metro First Team. Several Division III colleges recruited Prieto, and the 6-foot-8 forward received offers from a few Division I coaches to participate in their programs.
Still, Prieto had no intention of playing college basketball. Instead, he chose to attend Florida State, where he would pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a meteorologist. The Seminoles men’s basketball staff had shown no interest in Prieto, which was fine with him.
Now Prieto already has his undergraduate degree in meteorology and is expected to graduate in July. And, rather than being a forgotten high school star who dropped out of the game, Prieto is in his sixth season as an extra at Florida State, having decided upon enrolling in fall 2016 that he would indeed give another shot at basketball. He was on the team as a freshman and has remained in that role ever since.
“In the end, I was like, ‘I’m going to choose where I’m going to go to college for meteorology, and if the basketball thing worked, it worked,'” Prieto said. happened. I don’t regret that decision to come here and do this instead of going somewhere else.
Indeed, things turned out better than Prieto could have ever imagined. During his tenure with the Seminoles, Prieto was given a catchy nickname (“The Weatherman”), twice captained and made four NCAA tournament teams. The Seminoles are not expected to play in the NCAA Tournament this season, barring a deep run in this week’s ACC Tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. will play against No. 9 seed Syracuse on Wednesday with the winner facing No. 1 seed Duke on Thursday afternoon.
Still, this season Prieto has received the most playing time of his career and shown he can compete in high-level college basketball. Prieto scored just 24 points and played 65 total minutes in his first five seasons, but this season he played 251 minutes and scored 76 points in 20 games, including a career-high 14 points and 26 minutes. against Virginia on February 26. that game, Prieto also threw an inbounds pass with a second left to Matthew Cleveland, who grabbed the ball and made a lopsided 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 64-63 win.
Afterwards, a few of Prieto’s former coaches at St. Paul’s exchanged text messages.
“We were like, ‘Man, this kid never ceases to amaze us. He’s always doing something. He’s amazing,” said St. Paul assistant Greg Waguespack.
Waguespack remembers Prieto as a talented athlete who was also an All-State swimmer, but even more he admires Prieto’s intelligence and work ethic. Even in high school, Waguespack could tell Prieto had the brains and guts to hold his own with Weather, a tough major, especially for a Division 1 athlete who trains, plays, or practices many hours a day.
“We’re trying to tell our kids now, ‘Listen, you can achieve anything you want in life. Just watch it,” Waguespack said. “I just try to use him as an example for the other kids who are still in our program as someone to look up to.”
Prieto said he was first drawn to weather when Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area in August 2005. At the time, Prieto was seven years old and a sophomore. His family lost power for several days, so they stayed with a neighbor rather than flee the area, but all in all they were very lucky as the hurricane ended up claiming more than 1,800 lives and $125 billion in damage.
“I remember very well when Hurricane Katrina hit and we went through it, I remember going through a period like, ‘I have to figure out what just happened, how it worked'”, Prieto said. “Honestly, my whole college experience has been filling in this situation that happened so long ago. I have to figure out how time works because of what happened with Hurricane Katrina.
As he got older, Prieto focused on science and math, two areas that were of utmost importance to achieving his goal of becoming a meteorologist. No one in his family had ever been a meteorologist, but that didn’t deter Prieto.
“My parents did a really good job of nurturing this interest that I had, constantly telling me, ‘OK, you can put on the weather channel,'” he said. “Books (on meteorology) and everything related to nature allowed me to consult them whenever I wanted. They pushed me in that direction and said, ‘You have this natural inclination for this stuff. Let’s see where it goes.
Prieto is now one of 24 enrolled in Florida State’s two-year Master’s in Meteorology program, and he serves as a teaching assistant for two undergraduate classes. He has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll every year he has played at Florida State, and for the past three years has won the Golden Torch Award given to a Florida State Men’s Basketball Player for his achievements. academics.
While at Florida State, Prieto worked as an on-air weatherman for the student television station, and he even appeared on the Weather Channel and the network’s Weather Geeks podcast. Still, Prieto has no plans to work in television. Instead, he plans to pursue a job with an energy, financial or insurance company, which employs meteorologists and appreciates their skills in data analysis, computer programming and forecasting that could make a huge difference in terms of profits.
“If you think about it, weather really impacts everything,” Prieto said. “It impacts food growth, where you will need more natural gas for power plants, insurance companies need to know where natural disasters are more likely to occur. There is tons of stuff like that everywhere.
For this week, at least, Prieto’s full-time foray into meteorology has to wait until the Seminoles start playing in the ACC tournament. Florida State struggled with injuries all season and lost eight of nine games before winning the last three.
Prieto was one of the only bright spots as he has improved in all facets of his game since the fall of 2016, when he reached out to Seminoles assistant coach Stan Jones, who is overseeing tryouts without appointment. A few others also vouched for Prieto, hoping they could speak well of him when he decided to give basketball another chance.
“People kept talking about what a good leader he was for his high school team and the condition he was in as a former swimmer and he would be able to handle the rigors and the psychology of being a non-stock player,” Jones said. “To his credit those people probably underestimated him, he has been a fabulous part of our program in terms of leadership and practice effort and preparation effort. We will miss him in our locker room when he is gone after this year.