HIDALGO — Gus Sanchez, also known as “Little Gus,” followed in the footsteps of his father, longtime Hidalgo boys basketball coach Gus Sanchez, as both starred as guards during their high school careers with the Pirates.

Now, one year removed from graduating, the younger Sanchez is set to follow in his father’s footsteps once again, as he signed a national letter of intent Thursday to play basketball at McPherson College, the alma mater of his father and coach the past four years. McPherson is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II school which competes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“I’ve always wanted to play college ball. It’s always been a dream of mine, especially to get the opportunity to play where my dad played. It’s a great opportunity,” Sanchez said.

The younger Sanchez spent the last year training and practicing five times week. Earlier this year, he took a trip to McPherson to scrimmage against their men’s basketball team. He impressed enough to earn an offer to join the Bulldogs.

“It’s exciting to see this culminate from seeing him as a little kid walking around with me throughout the course of my career,” coach Sanchez said. “Seeing a lot of friends, family and community come together to see him go off to play in Kansas, it’s a great day for our family and our program.”

Gus Sanchez signs a letter of national letter of intent to play collage basketball at McPherson collage with his father and coach Gus Sanchez looking on during a signing ceremony in the gymnasium at Hidalgo High School on Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Hidalgo. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

The younger Sanchez was a standout four-year letterman for the Hidalgo basketball team. At 5 feet, 8 inches, his game is that of a crafty guard with a stroke from three an tenacity on the defensive end.

As a senior, he led the Pirates to a 26-11 overall record, including a District 32-4A championship, and into Round 4 of the Class 4A state playoffs. Sanchez flirted with a triple-double by averaging 19.7 points, 8.7 steals and 8.3 assists per game.

“I may not be the biggest, but I’m always going to be the hardest worker and I’m always going to be determined to be the best. Even if I am the shortest on the court, I’m determined to be the best on the court,” the younger Sanchez said.

Hidalgo’s Gus Sanchez (20) goes to the basket against Boerne in a Region 4A Regional Semifinal game at Gilbert E. Steinke Physical Education Center on the Texas A&m Kingsville campus on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020, in Kingsville. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

He also played baseball, football and competed in track and field.

Now headed to the college level, he’ll focus on just hooping, an opportunity Sanchez worked hard for since graduating in June 2020.

And he’ll be doing it at the college his father graduated from.

“You always want to surpass him; I tried to do that in high school, and now I’m going to try to do it in college,” the younger Sanchez said with a chuckle about his father.

With the experience of playing high school and college basketball at both Hidalgo and McPherson already under his belt, coach Sanchez said he would advise his son to “always represent.”

“Never lose sight of where you come from, but at the same time, never back down. If you want to be good and stand out over there, you can’t back down,” he said. “You have to work harder than everybody else athletically and academically.”

“I’m looking forward to representing the Valley and being the best player I can be,” the younger Sanchez said.

bramos@themonitor.com