LA MIRADA — Vince Hizon realized the dream of most who aspire to play college basketball.
It started when he was at Mater Dei High School putting in long hours on his jump shot, ball handling and other skills.
He continued to work hard at Cypress College and was rewarded with a scholarship to a Division I college--Boise State.
Well, OK, Boise State and the Big Sky Conference are not the acme of the Division I basketball world, but one has at least a view of it from there.
It turns out Hizon's quest was miss-directed for the most part. To find fulfillment, he had to come down a few competitive notches.
He's spending his senior season at Biola University, a Christian-oriented school in La Mirada, that competes in the NAIA.
The switch has hardly left Hizon, 21, aching for bigger crowds and all the hoopla of big-time college basketball.
Instead, he's finding satisfaction on the basketball court and in his spiritual and personal life, which includes the birth of his son last June and a strong relationship with the child's mother, Heather Sell.
"Right now," Hizon said, "I couldn't be happier in my life. Everything is going great."
For good reason.
Biola is having an outstanding season. The Eagles are 29-3, have won 22 in a row, and are ranked fourth in the NAIA Division I national poll. They beat Christ College Irvine, 87-55, in the first round of the District III playoffs Tuesday.
The Eagles play Southern California College in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Saturday at Whittier College. The championship game will be played Tuesday, but even if Biola loses in either game, there's a strong chance it would receive one of the eight at-large bids to the national tournament, which starts March 17th in Kansas City.
"I wanted to have a memorable senior season," Hizon said. "If this is it for me in basketball, I want to go out on a positive note."
Hizon is the first or second player off the bench for Biola and normally plays between 16 and 20 minutes per game. He is averaging eight points but has scored in doubles figures in each of his last three games, including 16 against Christ College Irvine Tuesday. He made four of five three-pointers in that game.
"He's shooting the ball with more confidence of late," Biola Coach Dave Holmquist said. "His confidence is starting to show."
But things didn't start so smoothly on the court for Hizon last fall at Biola. He was still in a basketball state of shock from his Boise experience.
He played a great deal early at Boise State, but as the 1990-91 season went on, Hizon's playing time dwindled.
He ended up playing in only 24 of 29 games, starting just two. He averaged two points, an assist and half a rebound per game.
This from a player who averaged 15 points and was the most valuable player in the Orange Empire Conference one year earlier. Hizon's leadership and solid fundamental play was a key reason Cypress went 12-0 and won the conference title.
He found the conservative style at Boise State somewhat restricting and was considering a change before he and Heather discovered they were going to be parents. Hizon said there were several reasons he left Boise and didn't want to pinpoint one.
But a major factor was the chance to be close to Heather and their son--Jordan Taylor Sell Hizon.
Hizon and Sell have plans to marry in the future. She and Jordan have been in the stands for almost every Biola home game this season, and Jordan already has a pair of baby Air Jordans.
"It's all worked out great," Hizon said. "Better than great. Jordan is awesome and Heather has been outstanding through it all . . . I had to grow up fast, but it taught me that there is more than basketball to concentrate on. I love Heather and I love Jordan and both have been positive figures in my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything."
Hizon enlisted the help of Cypress Coach Don Johnson when picking an area college to attend. He considered UC Riverside, Southern California College and Christ College Irvine before selecting Biola.
Hizon struggled to adjust to the new environment and Biola's upbeat offense. He credits teammate Paul McKinley with helping him adjust, as well as Holmquist.
"The frustrations he had were obvious at the start of practice," Holmquist said. "But it has really helped him grow in his Christian faith and he has just been a real joy to be around."