With its continuous success, Gonzaga has become a national powerhouse and with the stage set for the undefeated Bulldogs to play in the NCAA National Championship game this week, excitement continues to mount for local fans because of one former Rancho Christian Standout, Dominick Harris.
Harris played alongside Evan and Isaiah Mobley at Rancho Christian and was even with them for all their glory during their CIF Southern Section championship days and their Division 1 playoff appearances as well as their CIF State appearances.
The Mobley brothers, who now play for USC, were beat by Gonzaga (31-0) in their Final Four match-up this past weekend, 85-66, and after Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs hit a 3-pointer with 53 seconds to go, coach Mark Few cleared his bench and put the backups in, and Harris would go on to make a layup with 11 seconds to go.
Now, only Baylor (27-2) stands in the way of Harris claiming a National Championship title with his Bulldog teammates. The Zags have beaten out not only the Pac-12 schools in their geographic footprint, but also far bigger threats for the talent that has positioned them on the verge of college basketball’s first unbeaten season in 45 years.
Harris is part of a new wave of recruits that saw increasingly talented high school prospects and transfers come in to help Gonzaga, a small private school in Eastern Washington, bash bigger basketball powers on the way to becoming a national recruiting brand.
Gonzaga is no longer that little school that had to scrape together a roster of international finds, regional prospects, and transfers. The Zags have amassed talent for years, but a symbolic shift occurred in 2016 when forward Zach Collins became the first McDonald’s All-American to sign with the Bulldogs out of high school. He stayed only one year before heading to the NBA.
The Bulldog’s current roster features three likely NBA first-round draft picks in Suggs, sharpshooter Corey Kispert and big-man, Drew Timme…with more likely on the way. The family culture and emphasis on development have been staples of Few’s run that started in 1999, but five consecutive 30-win seasons also tend to be significant draws.
“Definitely over the last six or seven years, I’ve seen an uptick because it’s all these kids know,” Gonzaga assistant coach Brian Michaelson told the media. “We’ve never missed an NCAA tournament in these kids’ lifetimes. We’re at a point now where these kids being recruited, in their formative years, we’ve never done anything less than win 30 games and be in a Sweet 16 and we’ve been to two Final Fours.”
Only two of Gonzaga’s top seven players, Kispert and reserve forward Anton Watson, hail from Pac-12 states. Reserve guard, Dominick Harris, is the only player on the roster from California.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.