By MYLO ERICKSON
Horacio Llamas Grey, born in Rosario, Sinaloa, Mexico, is the only Pima Community College basketball player to make it to the National Basketball Association.
Llamas, who didn’t learn to play basketball until he was 15, was also the first Mexican-born player drafted into the NBA.
The 6 foot 11 inch, 285-pound center played for Pima during the 1992-94 seasons. In the 1993-94 season, he scored 52 points against Arizona Western College, which is the Aztecs’ all-time single game scoring record. He also was a two-time AJCAA All-League selection.
After playing for Pima, Llamas moved on to Grand Canyon University, where he was selected to the ACCAA First Team for two straight seasons. In 1996, he was named National College Athletic Division II Player of the Year by Basketball Times.
In the NBA, Llamas played just 28 games for the Phoenix Suns over two seasons, from 1996-98. He was a starter in two games. During his career, he averaged 2.1 points, 0.3 blocks, 0.4 steals and 0.2 assists per game.
Llamas was unable to play in the 1999 season due to a bruised foot and Achilles tendon. The Suns released him after that year.
Once released, he continued to play basketball for various international leagues including the Mexican League.
In 2004, Llamas tried to make a NBA comeback, trying out for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks already had a center, Daniel Santiago, so did not sign Llamas.
Llamas, 38, now plays in Mexico’s Liga Nacional De Baloncesto Profesional, on the Pioneros de Quintana Roo team.
This season, Llamas has scored 62 points, 42 rebounds and 16 assists.
Llamas’ work with youth programs in Cancun has fueled speculation that he might eventually coach.
Though his time in the NBA was short-lived, Llamas blazed new paths. It may be hard to make it to the pros from a community college, but Llamas showed it is not impossible.