Lecanto's Zimbro headed to Jacksonville

Senior guard will sign today for full scholarship.

Published May 27, 2005

After a culmination of 10 years of hard work on the court, Lecanto's Drew Zimbro will get to continue what he's loved to do since he was a child - for four more seasons.

Zimbro is signing a full scholarship today to play at Jacksonville University, and his prep coach couldn't be happier.

"I've been watching him play since he was 8 years old, and to watch him grow up into what he's become, we're all just so proud of him," Chris Nichols said.

Just a budding player back then for Nichols' first Little League team, Zimbro grew into a 6-foot-5 guard and became the Panthers' leading scorer his senior year, averaging 17.4 points. He had five rebounds per game.

But while Nichols says he knew Zimbro would be a star, Zimbro considers himself fortunate to be signing with a Division I program.

"I'm the luckiest kid in the world," Zimbro said. "In the fall, I wasn't getting much attention at all. I was getting a letter here and there.

"Then Jacksonville called me out of nowhere," he said. "I thought I was going to sign Division II or NAIA, but it worked out better than I expected."

Zimbro didn't come from one of the glitzy state championship squads that big colleges always look at. "Our school is in the middle of the woods," Zimbro chuckled. "Not many coaches know about us."

He bypassed AAU ball to stay with his Lecanto teammates and go to clinics, which reduced his exposure to colleges.

But Lecanto coaches were set on getting the word out on Zimbro. He had to do a little campaigning himself, pleading with schools to take a gamble on him. They didn't bite. Eventually, Jacksonville took notice.

"I went over there and met with the coaches, and I played pretty well against some of their guys," Zimbro said. "They liked my size and knew that once I put on some weight, I'll be bigger than most of the guards and it'll be harder to stop a big guy like that. And they knew I had the heart."

When Jacksonville made the offer, Zimbro finally could relax.

"A lot of the people that I knew had signed in the fall, and I had like 30 people coming up to me everyday asking me where I was signing," he said. "Now I got it out of the way, and it's a big relief."

- Cristina Ledra can be reached at 352 564-3623 or cledra@sptimes.com