Olympic Genes Help Greenway Rising Star

Standing 6-feet-8, Rafael Palomar engulfs the narrow doorway as he strolls into the Greenway High School gym and climbs a few rows up the bleachers as the Demons’ hype music blares through the speakers and a sea of players below practice jump shots and free throws.

One of those is Rafael’s grandson, Ivan Palomar, a fast-rising sophomore shooting guard who is in his second season as a varsity regular.

Rafael’s eyes quickly shift side to side seemingly watching Ivan’s every move, even in pre-game warm ups. The Mexico basketball icon, whose decorated professional career includes a 1976 Montreal Olympic appearance (where he averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game) and basketball stops in 20 countries and three continents, views a mirror image of himself on the floor.

“I see a lot of him when I was younger,” Rafael said of his grandson to Sports360AZ.com. “The way he carries himself on the court. I always told him this was a team sport. All the individual accolades will come later.”

Rafael passed those traits to his daughter Zaira, a 6-foot-2 standout prep basketball player at Hanks High School in El Paso, Texas who went on to play junior college volleyball.

Now it’s 6-foot-4 Ivan’s turn to continue the athletic and personal successes of his ancestries.

One foundation which never changes in the Palomar household is separating basketball time from family time. The elder Palomar’s believe the right balance is paramount for Ivan.

“When we make dinner we talk about the game and how it went,” Ivan said to Sports360AZ.com with a slight grin. “But when we start eating we talk about family and how our days went.”

For the Palomar’s basketball isn’t life, it’s simply a part of life. The fundamentals and concepts of the sport often overlap in aspects away from the court.

“I’ve instilled in my son that playing as a team player, doing his best, giving it his all is key,” Zaira said to Sports360AZ.com. “It provides a view of what he goes through on a daily basis. It’s important to instill in him to do his best all the time.”

Those sentiments are echoed by Rafael, who most importantly serves as a father figure but also Ivan’s basketball mentor.

“He’s always pushing me to my limits, even though it can be hard sometimes,” Ivan explained. “He says what I can improve on. It means a lot. Coming from him as a pro, it makes me a better player. Ever since I was a kid I loved being around my grandpa.”