Breaking News: Miami Heat confirm To Welcome Another Top star

Heat’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. returns home to SoCal as a top NBA rookie: ‘I’m very excited to get back’

Jaime Jaquez Jr. grew up in Camarillo, California, roughly 50 miles outside of Los Angeles. Jaquez went on to play college basketball at UCLA in Los Angeles. And he had a chance to extend his lifelong run in Southern California even after making the transition to the NBA, as Jaquez was still on the board when the Los Angeles Lakers took the No. 17 pick this summer. “I just wanted to get away,” Jaquez explained. “I think it was important for me to be able to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new.” I didn’t want to be the guy who says, ‘Oh, I just remained in Southern California all my life.'”


Jaquez received his desired outcome. In the June 22 draft, the Lakers grabbed Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino at No. 17, while the Miami Heat took Jaquez at No. 18. It worked out for Jaquez and the Heat, as Jaquez has already established himself as one of the NBA’s top rookies and a key part of Miami’s rotation after just two months of play. Jaquez is fourth among NBA rookies in points per game (13.7), ninth in rebounds per game (3.9), seventh in assists per game (2.6), second in thefts per game (1), and fourth in minutes per game (29.4) this season. “I wanted to go live in a different, new place,” said Jaquez, 22. “That’s why I was so eager to go to Miami.” It was novel. Everyone compares it to Los Angeles, but I believe it is vastly different.” However, Jaquez is excited to return to Southern California for the Heat’s two-game series in Los Angeles as part of the team’s five-game West Coast swing. At Arena, the Heat will face the Clippers on Monday and the Lakers on Wednesday. It’s Jaquez’s first trip back home in months, and he’s spent the most time away from Southern California in his life. This season, the Heat’s two regular-season games in Los Angeles are squeezed into one trip, and Jaquez intends to use the team’s five-day stay in his hometown to reconnect with friends and family. “It’s a long stretch and period of time where I get to see people I haven’t seen in a very long time,” said Jaquez, who was voted Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October and November games. “Because I haven’t been back in I don’t know how long since the summer.” But it’s been a while, and I’m eager to return.” The journey home will also allow Jaquez to pay a visit to his alma university, as the Heat will host a shootaround on the UCLA campus on Monday morning. His younger sister, Gabriela Jaquez, is a sophomore forward on UCLA’s women’s basketball team, and he remains close to numerous men’s basketball players. “I mean, that’s what FaceTime is for,” Jaquez said of staying in touch with his sister when they both played at UCLA last year. “I converse with her. I was just chatting to her on the phone about games and what we’re going to do. I’m really excited to see her. I believe they have a game. I’ll attempt to make it out to one of these. And if not, the boys will undoubtedly come out to support my old mater.” However, UCLA’s women’s team will not play at home again until Friday, when the Heat will already be in Phoenix for a game against the Suns. Jaquez will also miss a men’s game because UCLA’s men’s basketball team plays at home on Wednesday, the same day the Heat play the Lakers. However, Jaquez will be able to tick one item off his bucket list: playing a game inside Arena. Despite growing up in Southern California and idolizing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, Jaquez has never played at the downtown Los Angeles arena. “I’m excited about it.” “I still call it Staples,” Jaquez chuckled. “So I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and playing in front of my home crowd.” It’s going to be great fun.” Jaquez describes himself as a “SoCal kid,” but his time in Miami has been revolutionary both on and off the court. Since joining the Heat, he’s already opened eyeballs with his play on the court, and he’s also matured off the court during his first lengthy period away from home. “You kind of learn a lot about yourself,” said Jaquez. “It’s one thing to be alone. Making new friends and getting close to the men out here has obviously been fantastic. And you get to look in the mirror and realize what you really want out of life. I’m having a great time in Miami, being away from home, and acting like a genuine grownup. That, I believe, is the interesting part. My parents are no longer 45 minutes away as they once were. So it’s just a matter of working it out and seeing what you can come up with on your own.” GORAN’S RETIRING With former Heat point guard Goran Dragic formally announcing his retirement on Sunday after 15 NBA seasons, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra reflected on Dragic’s choice and time with the team during Monday’s morning shootaround practice. “It’s a beautiful thing,” Spoelstra told Heat announcer Jason Jackson. “It’s also probably one of those moments for him where he had to really think about it.” However, it is an excellent opportunity to reflect on a stellar career. And his time with us was incredible. He’s made an impression on each and every one of us in the organization, as well as everyone in Miami. And we’re excited to celebrate his next chapter.” REPORT OF INJURY Jimmy Butler (right foot irritation) and Dru Smith (right knee surgery) have been ruled out of the Heat’s game against the Clippers on Monday. Haywood Highsmith (jaw contusion) and Caleb Martin (right ankle sprain) are both considered questionable. Questionable are Kyle Lowry (head contusion), Josh Richardson (left back facet syndrome), Orlando Robinson (G League), and Cole Swider. After a brief stint in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Robinson and Swider are set to rejoin the Heat in Los Angeles to help offer depth for Monday’s game against the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard (left hip contusion) and Mason Plumlee (left MCL sprain) were listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Heat by the Clippers.

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