Wednesday, March 7, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Throwback: Mount Vernon Basketball Star Shuns Limelight

MOUNT VERNON - In a sport where being cocky is the norm, the sport that gave rise to the phrase ``in your face,'' Tim Caviezel is a throwback.

The unassuming basketball player from Mount Vernon wants people to understand that he's just a normal high-school kid. He shuns the ``star'' image. He doesn't want people to think he has a big head or an ego that threatens to devour the Greater Puget Sound area.

But he has the talent to make fans sit up and take notice. He has been making coaches sit up and take notice for years.

A 6-foot-7 point guard who shoots like an opposing coach's worst nightmare and passes like a teammate's sweetest dream, Caviezel promises at least four more years of viewing enjoyment to area fans, having signed an early letter of intent to play for the University of Washington.

He has averaged 22.6 points and 10 assists per game. It is not uncommon for Caviezel to be in double figures in points, assists and rebounds in a single game - the triple double.

Caviezel will display his talents tonight at 7 o'clock when Mount Vernon (20-3) plays Cleveland (17-9) at the Tacoma Dome in the first round of the state Class AA boys' tournament.

``I don't think I'm any different than anyone else,'' Caviezel said with genuine humility. ``I feel like I'm just another person. I don't want to feel like I have a big head - if I think I'm getting that way, it makes me mad.

``I just want our team to do well. I'd rather play bad and have our team win it all than for me to play good and be out after our first two games.''

But Caviezel is different.

``He's been a basketball junkie most of his life,'' said Dave Quall, Skagit Valley men's coach, who has watched Caviezel grow up. ``Basketball is really kind of a family affair. (Sisters) Amy and Ann both played in high school and college, (Brother) Jim played in high school and one year of college and his father was a player. Basketball has been a priority for his whole family. From that standpoint, basketball has been kind of a culture for them all to grow up in.''

Quall said Caviezel reminds him of an inner-city basketball player.

``He plays basketball the year around, and his play reflects that,'' he said. ``He also plays against older kids a lot. He comes out to the college in the springtime and plays with the college kids, and he's always felt comfortable doing that.

``He puts on a show, and he puts on a good show. In the 26 years I've been in the Northwest as a basketball coach, I think he's the best all-around, high-school player I've seen. Handling the ball, passing the ball, shooting the ball, rebounding, bringing the best out of his teammates. . . . I'm impressed.''

Quall said he has been most impressed with the improvement Caviezel has shown between his junior and senior seasons.

``If you watched him as a sophomore, then as a junior, you might think he'd regressed,'' he said. ``That sometimes happens to someone who is so good, so young.

``Nothing surprises me anymore because I'm a counselor. But I'll have to admit that his development has exceeded what would have been my expectations, and that's what has made it so gratifying watching him. It's always fun to watch someone mature and come into their own, and Tim has done that. I give him a lot of credit.''

Caviezel also has been given a lot of attention. Television cameras have become common at Mount Vernon games. So were college coaches before he announced his intention to become a Husky.

``It started to get a little tiring,'' Caviezel said of the recruiting process. ``I'd get a lot of coaches calling. After a while I'd tell my brother or sisters, `If it's a coach calling, tell them I'm not here.' It was kind of a thing where I had to tell a coach that I wasn't interested anymore, it was hard for me to do. I'd have my dad do it.

``It was an awesome feeling when it was all over with and I could concentrate on my season and not worry about people calling me.''

While many praise him, some unkind things have been said about Caviezel, unjust things that have carried a sting.

Caviezel shrugs them off. ``They hurt,'' he said, ``but they make me want to work that much harder to prove them wrong.''

Quall is more philosophical.

``It's a little bit like when they say a prophet hath no honor in his own country,'' he said. ``A lot of times you tend not to fully appreciate a person who has grown up under your own eyes.''

``I'm trying to truly appreciate what he's doing. . . . I respect what he's accomplished.''

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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