Way back when, the University of Cincinnati boasted a lefty who could pitch a baseball and hit jump shots, too.
Those are Koufax facts.
No duh, fellow left-hander Ryan Noda won't be the next Sandy Koufax, who played both baseball and basketball for UC's Bearcats.
What Noda will bring to Cincinnati, however, is the kind of athleticism and skill set that has to intrigue any coach. The 6-foot-4 senior guard is averaging a team-leading 13.6 points for Grant's basketball team, which advanced to the tournament championship game at both Richmond-Burton and Marengo.
For a guy who wasn't certain he would play his senior season of basketball, Noda has proved to be the Bulldogs' "most talented" player, coach Wayne Bosworth said. He's already produced four 20-point efforts, including a career-high 24 against Woodstock, and also has rebounded and distributed the ball effectively.
Just before the start of the season, Noda signed a national letter of intent to play Division I baseball for Cincinnati and first-year head coach Ty Neal, who was an assistant at Indiana. Noda, an outfielder/pitcher, was also talking with Illinois State and Ball State. He took official visits to Ball State and Cincinnati.
"I wanted to get away from Illinois," Noda said. "I really like the coach at Cincinnati.
"He's a great guy," he added of Neal. "He's all about family. That's why I like him. I just feel at home there."
It's his Grant basketball family that convinced the D-I baseball recruit to come back out for basketball again. With tryouts approaching, Noda's baseball future was still uncertain. As a sophomore, he started for head coach Dave Behm's club that placed third in the Class 4A state tournament. He then busted out with the bat last spring, batting .485 with 16 doubles, 5 triples, 3 homers and 31 RBI, while also posting a .565 on-base percentage and slugging at an .845 clip.
His speed was an asset, too, as he scored 37 runs and stole 15 bases.
"I was sitting down with my dad and we were talking (before the start of the basketball season)," Noda said. "I love basketball, but baseball is my passion. I just wanted to get all that secured, first, and know where I was going."
An ankle sprain suffered while playing basketball during an open gym made Noda think even harder about playing hoops this winter. An injury could jeopardize his college-baseball options. But near the end of October, with his ankle healed and a scholarship offer on the table, he verbally committed to Cincinnati.
A couple of weeks later, he signed to play for Sandy Koufax's alma mater.
"I finally figured out where I was going and I was like, 'All right. It's time to focus on my second sport,' " said Noda, who also started for the basketball team last season. "All the seniors, I've been with them since seventh grade playing basketball."
Despite a recent three-game losing streak, Grant has sported a winning record all season. The baseball star has enjoyed every minute on the court, even when desired results haven't been there.
In short, he has no regrets about deciding to spend winter focusing on hitting jump shots rather than fastballs.
"I'm happy I came out just because I get to play with my 'family,' my 'brothers,' " Noda said. "I love them all. I'll do anything for them."
For the lefty, the right move was made.
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