Florida Tech Basketball Signs JUCO Conference Player of the Year
By Florida Tech // May 18, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Head coach Billy Mims adds another piece to the puzzle on Monday, as Florida Tech men’s basketball announced the signing of Rafael Casanova for the upcoming season.
Mims is excited to add a versatile player, like Casanova, to the Panthers’ lineup as he will make an immediate impact on the team.
“We lost three very good players this season in Chris Carter, Jermaine Jackson and Akeem Johnson,” Mims stated.
“Chris and Jermaine were multi-year starters and All-SSC and All-American candidates during their careers at FIT, so I felt that we needed to find a shooting guard/small forward who could step in and play right away. I believe Rafael Casanova is that impact wing player. He comes to us from Cuesta College, a very well coached (Rusty Blair), high quality California junior college program. They were Western State Conference Champions both of his years there, so he knows what it takes to win in a good conference.”
“I also felt that we weren’t a good enough three-point shooting team last season and that was an area that we needed to address in our recruiting. Rafael is a great outside threat and instantly adds perimeter firepower to our lineup. He made 84 threes this past season and shot 41 percent from the arc. Those are outstanding numbers in any league.”
A transplant out of Seville, Spain, Casanova joins the Panthers after spending two years at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard helped the Cougars win two straight Western State Conference titles and make a third and fourth straight trip to the California Community College Athletic Association regional playoffs.
“I chose Florida Tech because I felt it was the right place for me,” stated Casanova.
“When I went on my visit I liked everything I saw over there from the campus, facilities, location, etc. I also liked the fact that there are a lot of international kids, even some Spaniards! Coming from Sevilla (Spain) the weather is pretty similar to Florida, so it will not be hard for me to get used to it.”
“My family and I wanted to find a great academic school in order to get my business degree, and with Florida Tech being one of the best academic schools in the nation, it made the decision of choosing a school easier for us,” said Casanova.
In his sophomore season in 2014-15, Casanova was named the WSC Player of the Year and First Team All-State after leading the Cougars to a 19-10 record.
Casanova led the Cougars, and finished fifth in the WSC, in scoring with 17.7 points per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the floor. His 514 total points ranked 10th best in California junior colleges for 2014-15.
In 12 games this season Casanova scored over 20 points, including a season-high 28 points versus Monterey.
Casanova was tied for third at Cuesta this season with 2.3 assists per game and second with 5.1 rebounds per game. He posted two double-doubles and made at least one three pointer in all 29 games that he played in.
A good defender as well, Casanova led his team with 41 steals on the season. His 930 minutes played were the fourth most by anyone in the California Community College Athletic Association this year.
A tremendous outside shooter, Casanova made 84 out of 203 three point field goals this season, good for sixth best in the state, while shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc.
After two seasons, Casanova ranks second all-time at Cuesta College with a career three-point percentage of 42 percent. He was chosen the Tournament MVP at the 2014 Neil Edwards Classic, and selected to the All-Tournament Team for the Rabobank Tournament.
“FIT has a great basketball program and an even a better coaching staff,” Casanova said.
“Coach Mims has been recruiting me very hard since the first day he knew about me. He is not only a good coach, but he is also a great person off the court, and he showed me he cares about me. I really liked that during my recruitment process. I’m excited to play for him, and I believe he will make me improve in every aspect as a basketball player and as a person.”
“Rafael has a high basketball IQ, sees the floor well and is an excellent passer,” remarked Mims.
“I love the passion that he plays with on both ends of the floor. He has good size for a guard, rebounds well and defends well too. From an international background his academic interests are in business and economics, and he is a highly motivated student. I think Rafael will be a great fit at Florida Tech both on the court and in the classroom.”