A Dominant Scorer With Relentless Drive, Antelope’s Jzaniya Harriel Closed Her Career As Our First Non-Bay Area Player Of The Year •
After a cover feature, multiple All-NorCal Team honors and a 2021 Preseason Player of the Year story, we’ve found we may be running out of ways to say how impressive Jzaniya Harriel is on the basketball floor.
That’s our problem though. Because the Antelope High senior guard hasn’t had any trouble letting her game keep speaking for her.
Harriel graduated last month and is set to begin her career for the Stanford Cardinal in the fall. But prior to joining the defending national champions, Harriel made the most of her 10-game senior season with a spring that saw her average 29 points for a Titans team that went 9-1.
It was that dominance and consistency that led to her being named SportStars NorCal Player of the Year. She’s the first Sac-Joaquin Section player to win the award, as well as the first non-Bay Area player.
“Jzaniya was a threat everywhere on the court, and got it done on both ends,” said Davis High coach Heather Highshoe, who’s teams faced Harriel three of her four years. “Her ability to pull-up from anywhere on the court was always impressive.”
Antelope coach Sean Chambers has seen that relentless scoring mentality from Harriel since first meeting her at his camps as a fourth grader. According to Chambers, Harriel truly announced her presence as a sixth grader playing for JBS Basketball Club at an OC Elite Tournament.
Due to injuries on the older teams, Harriel played for the sixth, eighth and ninth grade teams over the weekend. It was approximately 9 to 10 games over two days. She would end up being named the best player in all three brackets.
“She’s been completely driven at an elite level,” Chambers said of his star player prior to the spring season. “She has a mindset most kids don’t have.”
Naturally that mindset translates to the classroom as well — hence her acceptance to Stanford. Harriel took 15 advanced placement classes during her time at Antelope and entered the spring with a 4.5 GPA.
She’ll use both her academic and basketball IQ to adjust to life on The Farm — where coincidentally, one of her teammates will be two-time NorCal Player of the Year, Haley Jones of Archbishop Mitty-San Jose.
“She was always built for the big stage,” Chambers said in the same preseason interview. “She’s never rattled.”
Part of not being rattled is being prepared. Part of being prepared is understanding the situation.
“Coming in as a freshman, I know you have to work to earn a spot,” Harriel told SportStars in April. “But I’m not coming in thinking negative thoughts. I’ve talked with Coach Tara (Vanderveer) and she expects me to come in and play a big role.”
However she complements the national champs’ returning roster, rest assured there will be plenty of interested parties throughout the NorCal basketball community.
“Watching Jzaniya continue to elevate her game over the years, whether it be at Antelope or with JBS, has been fun,” Highshoe said. “I am excited to see all that she accomplishes at Stanford.”
Highshoe is probably just as excited that she no longer has to gameplan against Harriel. She’s undoubtedly not alone.
Freelancer Clay Kallam contributed to this article.