Antelope Star Four-Year Guard Jzaniya Harriel Prepares For One Last Titans Run Before Joining The Reigning NCAA National Champions This Fall •
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Sean Chambers knew Jzaniya Harriel was going to a good player when she started coming to camps and clinics as a fourth grader. But it wasn’t until sixth grade that he knew she was going to be great.
“We were playing in an OC Elite tournament, and she was on the sixth grade team. But then we had injuries and she had to play for the eighth and ninth grade teams too,” he says. “So she played nine or ten games over the weekend, and was named the best player in all three brackets.”
Since then, Harriel has only gotten better, which isn’t surprising given her work ethic.
“She’s been completely driven at an elite level,” says Chambers, her coach at Antelope High School and with the JBS club team. “She has a mindset most kids don’t have.”
“I’ve always had a competitive nature,” Harriel said. But like all NorCal basketball seniors, she won’t be able to compete in postseason during her final year. As this is written, there will be no formal playoffs, and the schedule will be extremely limited.
But Harriel has maintained a positive attitude. “I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing – I’m really grateful we’ll have any kind of season at all. It’s really nice to get one last time with my teammates.”
Of course her career isn’t ending. She will play for defending national champion Stanford next year – and as most are aware, it’s not enough to just be a great player to get into Stanford. The grades have to be exceptional too.
Harriel’s last GPA was 4.5, but don’t think that dazzling number was achieved by picking easy courses. She took 15 AP classes at Antelope and should be well prepared both academically and athletically for life at Stanford.
And Chambers has no doubt she’ll succeed on the court. “She was always built for the big stage,” he says. “She’s never rattled.”
Her knowledge of the game is exceptional as well. “She’s a chameleon,” he says. “She plays one through five, and she knows every position. And she’s like Luca Doncic – she sees plays before they happen.”
That versatility will fit right in with Tara Vanderveer’s team, which features multi-skilled players like Haley Jones and Lexie Hull who can do whatever it takes at a given moment to help the team win.
“Coming in as a freshman, I know you have to work to earn a spot,” she said, “but I’m not coming in thinking negative thoughts. I’ve talked with coach Tara and she expects me to come in and play a big role.”
First, though, she has a big role to play in her final high school season, truncated though it may be. In Antelope’s first game, she scored “an easy 35,” Chambers said. Barring disaster, she’ll be the heavy favorite for her fourth Capital Valley Conference MVP honor.
Actually, though, her “career” as an elite player really began in middle school, and given her talent, work ethic and skill level, that career is only just beginning.