MIAMI — So if you love to root for the underdog, you might be cheering on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The team shocked the basketball world with their amazing and unexpected playoff run.

But what’s even more impressive is one of the Heat played his college ball right here in the Friendly City.

“He just continued to improve every year and by the time he left he was one of the best players in the country.”

Danny Sancomb, Men’s Basketball Coach, Cal Pa

From the Friendly City to the Magic City.

That’s the route Haywood Highsmith took on his way to the NBA’s biggest stage.

It was back in 2014 when then Wheeling Jesuit Men’s Basketball Coach Danny Sancomb jumped at the chance to have the Baltimore native join the Cardinals.

“We recruited him, it was late in the process. We saw him in Indianapolis, at an AAU tournament. His high school coach also played at Wheeling for a year and highly recommended Haywood as well. We got him late and were very excited to get him.”

Danny Sancomb, Men’s Basketball Coach, Cal Pa

Highsmith played for Wheeling Jesuit from 2014 to 2018 and was a major factor in the teams success.

The Cardinals were Mountain East Conference Champs in 2016 and tournament champ in 2018.

Highsmith was named NCAA Division II Player of the Year his senior year.

He began his professional playing career with the Deleware Blue Coats of the NBA G League befor eventually making his wat to Miami.

“I just worked my hardest and God had a plan for me and I’m just glad I stuck with it and never gave up and just kept working “

Haywood Highsmith, Miami Heat

Highsmith’s long road road to the NBA serves as an inspiration college players looking to follow a similar path.

“Players in your program look up to him. They look up to him. They look up to him. He worked out in the same gym. I think it’s a great testament to not just Wheeling University but to the Mountain East Conference and Division II. As a player, if you’re good enough and you work hard enough, they will find you. “

Chris Richardson, Men’s Basketball Coach, Wheeling University

The next step in Highsmith’s exciting journey is about to get underway as The Heat take on the Denver Nuggets in the final round of the NBA Playoffs.