For three years, Justin Heller has done his best to help the Miami basketball team as a walk-on.
His freshman year, he didn't see any action. By the time his junior season rolled around, the former West Boca standout saw action in 11 games during the Hurricanes' run to the ACC title.
Wednesday, Miami coach Jim Larrañaga offered Heller an athletic scholarship for the spring semester.
“Justin Heller is a very, very valuable part of our program; he has made a contribution to our success over the last three seasons,” said Larrañaga in a statement released by the school. “Whenever you have a young man who has such a great attitude, makes a total and unconditional commitment to helping the team, and carries himself in a first-class manner, you need to reward that if you can. This happens to be a year where we have not used one of our scholarships, so giving Justin a scholarship for the second semester is our way of thanking him for his loyalty and dedication to the team.”
Said Heller, who has seen action in 18 games during his Miami career, "It’s a big honor to be given this scholarship and show that all of the time I’ve put in and how much I’ve been around the team has been rewarded. I just try to have a positive attitude and try to make everybody better every day. It’s a great feeling. Everyone has congratulated me and is very happy for me.”
“The things that Coach L said about me about attitude, commitment and class are the same things I feel about him and his staff ever since they arrived. They have treated me better than I could have ever imagined and have made me feel like an important part of the team.”
Miami's next game is Wednesday night at North Carolina. They return home to face Florida State on Jan. 15.