In general, when people talk about what it means to be a quintessential Zag, there are a few aspects to that description that are required.
Previously, that used to mean a player that was often overlooked by other higher profile schools around the country. Now, it often means a player whose basketball game visually incorporates a hard hat and lunch pail: less flash, more the guy who takes out the trash, so to speak.
What has persisted throughout over the years is an ingrained involvement in the community. Gonzaga is in Spokane and Spokane is in Gonzaga. The two are intricately intertwined in their identities.
No one can be surprised in saying when Rasir Bolton arrived on campus, they were surprised in what would come from it. After all, transfers often times are hired guns, and Bolton was no different. Three years into his collegiate career, he was looking to make as big of an impact as possible before taking the next step.
He did that at Gonzaga in a way that was bigger than basketball. Bolton’s on court heroics are impressive, he had a knack for hitting big shots and big threes. This season, despite a bit of inconsistency in production, his late game energy was on point—bringing the Zags to victory against USF on the road and against TCU in the NCAA Tournament.
However, it was his involvement in the community, off the court, that in my mind will be his lasting legacy at Gonzaga. The story has been told by the media before, but it is worth reading each time. I particularly like this version, from Rick Clark himself, about how he became connected with Bolton and the impact he has made within the homeless community and for those with limited income in Spokane.
A sense of community is one of the big reasons I chose Gonzaga. I would assume quite a few other students are in the same boat. Spokane, like everywhere in the world, is not without its problems. Even the most perfect community has individuals who need help, need lifting, and need support.
To see a player dive into that community with as much effort as he showed on the basketball court is inspiring. I’m going to miss mid-range Ra, big shot Ra, smiling through the man in the green shirt Ra, but I also think he set the standard for what it means to give back as a Zag. It is a lofty standard that I hope future players look up to, because it will be a hard one to top.