It is human nature to take things for granted from time to time - we all do it. Whether personally or professionally, there are things in life that are vital but for whatever reason seem to go unnoticced by most of us. For Gonzaga fans, the brilliance that is Elias Harris is one of those things. While national attention has largely been focused on the ascent of Kelly Olynyk, it is Harris that continues to be the rock in the low post for Mark Few's Bulldogs. Nothing symbolized this more than Harris' play last night against Loyola Marymount. While Olynyk and the rest of the Zags struggled mightily, it was Harris that quietly carried the load and delivered the Bulldogs to the finals.
Everything about Harris' career has been quiet - save for the initial impact he made when he laced up for the Zags. Harris' recruitment was, well, completely uncovered. A press release by the West Coast Conference was the first time we heard about Harris and he was immediately labeled a potential project. A huge freshman season which saw the German import average 15 points per game had the country talking NBA potential and Lottery Pick but that was never really the goal for Harris. He elected to remain at Gonzaga and from that point on is when the magic really started to happen.
An injury-plagued sophomore season had most pundits scoffing at Harris' decision to remain in college but an interesting thing happened during this year - he started to become a complete player. While America fell in love with Harris as a freshman due to his highlight reel athleticism, it has been his commitment on the defensive end and on the glass that has made him an all-time great Zag. When Harris leaves, he'll have a case to be on the Mount Rushmore of modern Gonzaga basketball. Just take a look at some of the numbers Harris has put up as a Zag:
1,821 career points - 4th All-Time in Gonzaga history, just 46 points shy of Adam Morrison
960 career rebounds - 2nd All-Time in Gonzaga history...he won't catch Jerry Vermillion's 1,670.
26 career double-doubles - Just Ronny Turiaf (27) and Cory Violette (29) have more
The national sentiment will likely continue to read that he peaked as a freshman but Gonzaga fans know that it is just the opposite. Elias swapped highlight reel dunks and volume shooting for double-doubles and clutch performances. Last night against Loyola Marymount was a great reminder of how good this guy truly can be. He had a pair of huge defensive spots including some fantastic blocked shots and was aggressive at all the right times.
While I think we will see Harris add one final and very successful chapter to this Gonzaga history book, it is worth recognizing him for what he has contributed thus far. While Kelly Olynyk will get 99% of the chatter, and he deserves every bit of it, I think it will be Harris that delivers the Zags to their most successful tournament results in history.