2013 Hall of Fame Inductee: Marcos Leite
Sept. 26, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. -- The Pepperdine University Department of Athletics' 2013 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is coming up on Sunday, October 20, in Firestone Fieldhouse.
Tickets are available ($60 per person, includes dinner) and can be purchased by contacting Jamil Macias at 310-506-4935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From now until the event, PepperdineSports.com will be running profiles on each of the inductees. Today is Marcos Leite's turn:
Very few Waves possibly could have arrived at Pepperdine with a greater international pedigree than Marcos Leite. Before enrolling in 1974, he had already led his native Brazil to a seventh-place finish at the 1972 Olympics, where he was one of the top players in the entire men's basketball competition.
At one point, Pepperdine Coach Gary Colson received a letter stating that the 6-foot-10 Brazilian was interested in playing basketball in the U.S., particularly at a school located near the beach. After learning more about Leite, who averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds for Brazil at the 1972 Olympics, including a 20-point performance against the U.S., Colson didn't need any convincing.
Leite couldn't come for the fall semester due to other commitments, and there were a few nervous months for the coaching staff when rumors started to surface that Leite could be headed elsewhere. But he did finally arrive in Malibu in January 1974 and made his mark for the Waves immediately. He earned All-American honorable mention notice as well as West Coast Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 17.3 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Leite's sophomore season of 1974-75 was equally strong, as he captured All-American honorable mention notice once again and All-WCAC first team honors with averages of 19.7 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Everything came together for Pepperdine in 1975-76, as the Waves won the WCAC title, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962 and ended the season ranked 17th and 20th in the nation by Basketball Weekly and the Associated Press, respectively. The Waves beat Memphis State in the NCAA's first round behind Leite's 34 points. Leite was named the WCAC Player of the Year and earned All-American honorable mention honors for the third time in three years. He averaged 18.7 points and 10.0 rebounds.
Leite would leave after his junior season to play basketball professionally. His career averages of 18.7 points and 10.6 rebounds still rank third and sixth, respectively, on Pepperdine's all-time charts.
Though he was selected in the 10th round of the 1976 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Leite's entire professional career took place in either his native Brazil or Italy before he retired in 1989. His long international tenure included two more Olympics, as he helped Brazil to fifth place in 1980 and ninth place in 1984. Leite, also known as "Marquinhos" back home, earned a gold medal at the 1971 Pan American Games, silver medals at the 1970 World Championships and 1983 Pan American Games and bronze medals at the 1978 World Championships and 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games. He won a gold medal at the 1979 club world championships with Esporte Clube Sirio of Brazil. Leite was also named one of the five best Brazilian basketball players of the last century.
Today, Leite coaches basketball in São Paulo, Brazil, while also working as a physical education teacher and serving as the president of an organization called Maritaca. Its objectives include promoting Brazilian art and culture and the protection and preservation of historic landmarks and artworks.
His wife's name is Celma Vasconcellos Leite and he has four daughters (Roberta Menicucci Leite, Natascha Hollack Leite, Danielle Yazigi Leite and Isabelle Yazigi Leite), two grandsons and one granddaughter.