I don’t think I’ve used the term snakebit before, but it seems appropriate to describe Dominic Harris’ Gonzaga career so far. As a freshman, Dom would probably have played more than ten minutes per game if Andrew Nimbard’s qualification had not been announced before play began. Last season, he would have faced Racer Bolton at pole position if a plantar fascia tear hadn’t kept him out all year. This year, Bolton has unexpectedly returned, and Gonzaga crippled much sought-after transfer guard Malachi Smith, while last season’s players Nolan Heckman and Hunter Salles lived up to their five-star hype. Snakebit.
Primarily known for putting together the “Tricky Trio” (Harris, Suggs, and Strawther) that led to the signing of Chet Holmgren, it’s easy to forget what amazing basketball player Dominic Harris is. As a high school prodigy, he was Player of the Year in the California Division including a 50-point game with 10 triples.
He averaged 25 per game as a freshman and sophomore, and committed to Gonzaga after his sophomore season. He transferred to Rancho Christian School as an apprentice, providing the outside threat to Isah and Evan Mobley, who starred in USC and now plays in Cleveland Cavaliers. That season, Harris had played No. 1 on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten, diving over 7-feet James Wiseman who now plays in the Golden State Warriors. He eventually reached number 50 in the 247sports.com 2020 rankings and seemed to be an immediate contributor upon his arrival at Gonzaga.
Best laid plans. Harris, nicknamed the Dominator, demonstrated his prowess from a depth of limited minutes (7.2 pg) as a freshman. He shot 391% in 23 attempts of three, which is a small sample but potentially indicative. Late last season, he recovered enough to start training with the team, and news leaked that he is one of the best three-point shooters and a closed defender during the scuffles. He’s got the game, but unfortunately for him, so do four other keepers.
Probably the most interesting questions entering the season will be the starting line-up and substitution cycles. With the number of talent in the Gonzaga squad seemingly increasing every year, the question always arises as to whether this will be the season in which Mark Few expands his role. So far, the answer has always been no. Bigs Timme, Watson, Strawther and Reid are sure to play, and Strawther and Timme are likely to play for 30 minutes per game, which could mean a potential disappointment for the very talented goalkeeper.
out of the five primary guards; Harris, Bolton, Smith, Salis and Hickman, only Bolton and Smith, both fifth-year seniors, seem foolproof for the minutes. Hickman, being the only points guard, has an indoor track as the third goalkeeper and a starting position in the “little ball” squad with Strother playing the “4”. That leaves Harris and Sales in what could be a season-long battle over who will be the first to come off the bench. It could change from game to game until March. Then, one of those two exceptional talents might drop to the fearsome ninth in a little rotation. That would be a shame, let’s hope both guys are better off getting off the ground.
Who knows, with all the talent available, this might be the year when a few expand their rotation to nine players (or more, Perry, Gregg and Huff).
After an injury last season, Andrew Nymbard said of Harris: “I just love his game, and I love him as a kid. He works hard, he’s all about the team. When he comes back, he’s going to be great…”. Let’s hope for Nembhard’s health. In most of the podcasts I’ve listened to and articles I’ve read this off season, Harris is often mentioned as the player with the most potential for a break. Let’s hope so, it’s time for this talented and much-loved number one on the team to turn his luck.
At Cascadia Public House in North Spokane (6314 N Ash Street), they serve a huge spicy chicken sandwich called Dominator. Dominic Harris, in his first for nothing deal, helped develop the sandwich and 5% of its sales will go to local Spokane charities. If you’re in the area, try it out.