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Steve Vasturia stays cool under pressure on the biggest stage of his life

The Medford-born, St. Joe's Prep and Notre Dame product is laid-back but has a killer mentality on the basketball court.

Steve Vasturia, a Medford native and product of St. Joe’s Prep and Notre Dame, worked out for the the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
Steve Vasturia, a Medford native and product of St. Joe’s Prep and Notre Dame, worked out for the the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.Read moreDavid Swanson/Staff Photographer

LIKE MANY HIS AGE, Steve Vasturia is entering an unknown phase of his life after his graduation from college. What will his first job be? Where will it land him? Is it somewhere that will keep him happy for the next couple, few, many years?

Unlike most, though, Vasturia is looking at a world of great options.

The Notre Dame graduate is laid-back cool. Icy blue eyes hover above an engaging smile that makes you both want to sit in a bar with him and have beers or hang out on a beach and talk hoops. His look, though, masks a killer mentality he possesses when he gets on the basketball court, a trait that might hide a few flaws in his game but endear him to those who he plays for and with.

Vasturia, a Medford, N.J., native who played his high school ball at St. Joseph's Prep, really has no discernible skill that gives him an above-average shot at landing in the NBA. He just does everything well and has that immeasurable talent of making those around him better.

Wednesday, Vasturia woke up in his parents' house, drove to the 76ers practice facility – acknowledging he got there way earlier than he was scheduled to – and went through a workout with five other draft hopefuls in front of president Bryan Colangelo, coach Brett Brown and a handful of players, including Joel Embiid, at the team's facility in Camden.

Vasturia nailed a three in transition with a defender closing out on him just after hitting a nifty floater in the lane. A little later, he saw a three blocked cleanly, as he was a little slow to pull the trigger. He was in the right spot defensively and made all the right plays on offense.

Whether the 6-6 guard can latch on to an NBA team remains to be seen (he'll have also worked out for New York and Brooklyn before the June 22 draft). But if he doesn't, it's because there isn't an NBA skill that sticks out from Vasturia, though he has that all-important title of "winner."

"I realize the NBA is searching for players with specific skill sets, and that's where Steve probably won't stand out," said Mike Brey, Vasturia's coach at Notre Dame. "But there is a reason he had to play 38 minutes a game for me since his sophomore season, and that's because when he's on the court, the five offensive players are better and when he's on the court, the five defensive players are better.

"He just has a tremendous feel for the game. He's so poised, never gets rattled. He may be the best all-around player our program has seen. He had an amazing career. He's a guy who is the same every day, a guy you can count on. He knows who he is as a player. He's special."

Whether those intangibles are enough to carry Vasturia onto a team in the greatest league in the world will be played out over the next several months. But whatever happens, you get the feeling you won't get a bad reaction from Vasturia one way or another. Whatever lies ahead, he'll accept with his sheepish grin and make the most out of it.

"I'm going to chase my dream of playing in the NBA and see what happens," he said. "But I'm excited to play here, the D-League, overseas, wherever it may be. There are opportunities to keep playing and making some good money, so I want to keep playing."

NBA future? Maybe.

Play professionally overseas? Probably.

Cool with…whatever? Most definitely.

"He's sitting in the catbird seat," Brey said. "If he gave up basketball, he'd have five offers to work on Wall Street by day's end. He graduated from the Mendoza College of Business. But I don't think you can count him out for the NBA. He is every bit of 6-6, plays every aspect of the game well, and has that feel for it that not many have. If someone takes a shot on him, they aren't going to be sorry — that's for sure.

"Steve is just so cool. When we would break for the offseason, he'd go down the shore, get a tan, let his hair grow. When we would get back together for workouts, I'd just laugh looking at him, because I know that he's a kid who knows how to relax when he's supposed to. But then he'd get the haircut, get on the floor and be ready to go. He's so special."

Vasturia finished his career for the Irish as only the second player in school history to record more than 1,000 points, post more than 300 assists and shoot better than 85 percent from the foul line. He shot 91 percent from the free throw line his senior season.

While Vasturia concedes his most likely landing spot might be overseas, his approach to what is ahead of him is as care-free as those summer days on the beach.

"I'm not sure what I'll do after basketball or if it doesn't work out," Vasturia said. "The most important thing is I graduated and got my degree from Notre Dame, which I was happy about and my parents were happy about. I think down the road I've always wanted to be in the business world somewhere. There are so many great alumni in the business world, so I'll network there. For now, I'll focus on hoops and see where that takes me and won't give it up until I'm done with it and then I'll go from there."

In the meantime, trips down the shore, a little tan on a body that has spent a ton of time in the gym over the past several months and no trips to the barbershop head the list for Vasturia. The career, no matter what the profession, will be there for him. And he'll ease into it and succeed, as he's done his whole life.