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Vu Feels a Sense of Belonging

Prep basketball: Left off all-county teams, Los Amigos guard has worked hard to earn recognition as one of area's best.

April 28, 2001|BEN BOLCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For Peter Vu, no news was bad news.

The Los Amigos senior guard had been selected most valuable player of the Garden Grove League after averaging double figures in points and rebounds while leading the Lobos to their first league title in 21 years.

But when he opened the sports sections of local newspapers a few weeks later, he was upset to find his name missing from the list of what were purported to be the best boys' basketball players in Orange County.

Vu wasn't the type to complain; it was just that he had spent the last four years transforming himself from a wiry kid who had never played the sport into one who lived it. He had worked on his game for hours after practice every day and played in seemingly every adult league that would accept him. And now, as one of the top players in his class, he wasn't getting any recognition.

So Vu went to his high school coach, Don Grable, and asked how he could have been left off those all-county teams. Was it a misprint? How could he have worked so hard, done so well and received so little credit?

Grable, as befuddled as his player, couldn't offer much comfort. But Vu decided then and there that he was going to prove that he belonged on those teams.

"Since that day, I've been working even harder so that I can show everyone that I should have got something," Vu said. "I wasn't just a scorer, I was a rebounder and everything else."

Vu will get a chance to display his skills at 8 tonight, when he plays for the South in the Orange County All-Star game at Orange Coast College. He is a versatile 6-foot-1 wing player with excellent leaping ability, a good first step and the strength to hold off and finish on the drive.

"It's been a joy to coach him," Grable said. "He's a good, fun, hard-working kid who put in a lot of time on his own to get better."

For the most part, Vu is a self-made player. While he enjoyed watched basketball on television growing up, he never played the game.

That changed when he joined the basketball team as a freshman at Los Amigos. Vu displayed an aptitude for the game, but he wasn't one of his team's best players. So he spent his extra time working on all facets of his game after practice.

"So many kids go to the gym to play," Grable said. "Peter's getting his shooting in, doing his weightlifting, and then he might go have some fun. He went with the purpose of getting better."

Vu sought assistance from anyone who would give it--primarily the Los Amigos players and coaches and his older brother, Thanh Jr. By the end of his sophomore year, he was working with shooting coach Tom Marumoto. Soon he was joining adult leagues and developing an outside shot to complement his driving ability.

The extra effort resulted in a breakthrough senior season in which Vu averaged 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. He shot 42.3% from behind the three-point arc and a county-best 82.1% from the free-throw line.

Vu can show tonight that he belongs on the court with more high-profile South teammates such as Ocean View's Torin Beeler and Foothill's Chad Bigler, both of whom were selected all-county.

"He can play with those guys," Grable said. "It's a deserving honor."

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