Tampa's favorite Bull | News
Tampa, Florida -- Look at Toarlyn Fitzpatrick now and you'd say the 6'8" University of South Florida junior was born to play basketball. But growing up in Tampa, his family says Fitzpatrick first tried football, then baseball before he discovered hoops.
"The older he was getting, the taller he was getting. So I told him, 'Try basketball, as tall as you are,'" said Fitzpatrick's uncle Ponce De Leon McNeal.
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And Fitzpatrick certainly was tall. In middle school, he was already 6'4" and towering over most of the other kids.
"Matter of fact his pediatrician told me in 6th grade to get a sports lawyer, because he already knew he was going to be an NBA player or something," said his mother Limbana McNeal.
As Fitzpatrick grew older, he kept growing too. By 18 he stood 6'8" and was a star on the King High School basketball team. During his time at the school he scored more than 2,000 points and helped guide the Lions to the state championship game.
Now Fitzpatrick is helping the Bulls make history, scoring 6-points while grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing out 4-assists Wednesday night in USF's first ever NCAA Tournament win.
Limbana McNeal says her son's stat line, which also included a block and steal in the Wednesday's game against California underscores Toarlyn's personality.
"He's not selfish in the game. He wants the whole team to do well and that's important," she said.
On Friday night, the family will gather in Tampa to watch the Bulls game with their eyes focused on #32. But win or lose McNeal says she is already proud of her son. "I'll probably text him, 'keep your head up. Relax and enjoy the game and do your best.' That's all you can do, is your best."