Kawhi Leonard's college coach says returning to West Coast 'always in back of his mind'

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SportsPulse: He chose not stay in Toronto, he chose not to join LeBron and Anthony Davis: Kawhi Leonard is signing with the Clippers.
USA TODAY

Former San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said his recruitment of a teenage Kawhi Leonard became an “infatuation” that eventually led the Aztecs to land the future NBA All-Star and transform the program.

“What you see now, all the intangible gifts he has for the game, that all drew us to him,” Fisher told USA TODAY Sports during a phone interview Tuesday.

“But I tell people this repeatedly: I’ve never seen a player who works harder on his own time. The fact that he’s a pro doesn’t surprise me. But the fact that he’s this good — as a top-five (NBA) player — I don’t think anyone saw that. Except him, in that gym by himself.”

Leonard’s father, Mark, was shot and killed in January 2008 at the Compton car wash he owned. That year, Leonard was named California Mr. Basketball while at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. Leonard played for Fisher from 2009-11, when he became an All-American and eventually the No. 15 pick of the 2011 NBA draft.

Fisher said he’s stayed in touch with…

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