SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BVM) – The most memorable moment of Jzaniya Harriel’s spectacular high school basketball career – one in which she has already eclipsed 2,000 career points through three seasons – is the first time she ever got nervous for a game.
It was the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II final of Harriel’s freshman year in 2018.
“I’ve never been nervous in a basketball game, but that was the first time I was ever nervous getting on the court,” Harriel said.
The 5-foot-10 guard’s nerves lasted all but a few minutes as she went on to score 21 points, grab 21 rebounds and help lead Antelope to its first section championship in school history. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than Harriel’s 20-point, 20-rebound double-double in a section championship game as a freshman was the absence of nerves up to that point.
Harriel grew up in a sports-minded household with seven siblings where everything was a competition. From basketball at the park to board games at home with the family, competition became second nature to Harriel long before she stepped on a court for Antelope.
“It (being raised alongside seven siblings) was really good for me because it made me really competitive,” Harriel said. “Being in that competitive environment carried over into the basketball world and really helped me be competitive in everything that I do in a healthy way.”
It wasn’t just Harriel’s siblings who helped instill a fiery competitiveness in her, but also her father. Mister Harriel played professional basketball in France and has been instrumental to Jzaniya’s development as a hooper.
Mister has been Jzaniya’s number one trainer, and 5 a.m. workouts together are just part of this special father-daughter duo.
“He basically gave me his skillset so everything he knows, he put it into me,” Jzaniya said. “He brings the best out of me and makes me work hard even if sometimes I don’t want to, which is very rare. He’s played a huge role.”
Following an impressive freshman season and the first section championship in school history, Jzaniya’s prep career took off.
The Titans’ guard led the state in scoring (797 points) while averaging 12.8 rebounds as a sophomore, then came back for her junior campaign to average more points per game (25.9) and lead Antelope to its second Sac-Joaquin Section Championship. Jzaniya is a three-time Capital Valley Conference MVP, All-Metro Player of the Year and Sacramento’s top girls basketball recruit.
The two-time MaxPreps all-state guard received a handful of Division I offers from the likes of Purdue, Washington State, Northwestern and others before her “dream school” came knocking. While Jzaniya’s competitiveness is evident on the court, it’s also present in the classroom. A straight-A student, Jzaniya sports a 4.8 GPA and knows there’s more to life than basketball.
For this reason and others, Jzaniya committed to Stanford back in May, becoming the first Sacramento-area player to sign with the Cardinal since Sara James in 2010.
“They have the best of both worlds academically and athletically so it was more of a four-year decision for me,” Jzaniya said. “I knew that’s where I wanted to go and right when I stepped foot on campus, I knew this was home.”
— SIMPLY BASKETBALL (@simplyy_bball) October 1, 2020
Jzaniya was one of four highly-touted prep stars to sign with the Cardinal on National Signing Day. Elena Bosgana (Athens, Greece), Brooke Demetre (Mater Dei), Kiki Iriafen (Harvard-Westlake) and Jzaniya make up one of the nation’s strongest 2021 classes, collectively rated No. 6 by espnW HoopGurlz.
The 2021 recruiting class is a strong addition to a Stanford program which has won a pair of national championships, been to 32 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and won at least 20 games for 19 straight years.
As a self-proclaimed team player who centers her game on whatever the team needs her to do, Jzaniya wants nothing more than to continue the winning tradition at Stanford.
“I’m just looking to help my team,” Jzaniya said. “The only goal I have going in there is winning a national championship every year and whatever personal accolades come with that, I’ll take those.”
— Stanford Women’s Basketball (@StanfordWBB) November 11, 2020