NCS Senior of the Year
NASEEM GASKIN, BISHOP O'DOWD
To say there were high expectations for Naseem Gaskin and Bishop O’Dowd could be an understatement. After failing to reach the 20-win mark in 2016-2017, including a disappointing first-round loss in the NorCal playoffs, there was plenty of unfinished business for the Dragons, led by Gaskin and fellow senior Elijah Hardy.
The result was a Bishop O’Dowd team which not only went out and proved itself against the top teams in the nation during non-league play, but continued to make its mark for the rest of the season. The Dragons went unbeaten in WACC-Foothill play, captured the NCS Division II title, and came within one point of adding a NorCal Open Division title.
“These seniors came in very heralded as freshmen (when O’Dowd beat Mater Dei for a CIF Open Division title), but they struggled as sophomores and juniors as far as playing for another title,” said Bishop O’Dowd coach Lou Richie. “They had to prove themselves this season. I challenged Naseem and Elijah on what their legacy would be as winners. They battled, challenged each other, and proved themselves to be exactly that – winners.”
Gaskin and Hardy wound up sharing Player of the Year honors for the WACC-Foothill Division, with both Pac-12 bound players living up to those high expectations. Gaskin averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game, despite many games in league play which required minimal time on the court for the Dragons’ top players. He also worked on his all-around game, and O’Dowd made a conscious effort to have a balanced attack.
“Naseem had a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure,” Richie added. “He is a great team player, and got his teammates involved. He evolved into the kind of player he has to be at the college level. In his mind, however, he can get to the rim whenever he wants, and plays a lot like Russell Westbrook.”
That ability to get to the rim and score was evident when Gaskin broke the single-game record for points scored, dropping 44 points in a late regular-season win over Berkeley, a win that sealed the league title for the Dragons. At the Crush in the Valley showcase in late January, Gaskin amazed spectators with his 26-point, 11-rebound performance against Clark-Las Vegas.
Now, he heads off to the University of Utah, and will become a college opponent of Hardy, who is headed to Washington. Gaskin also finishes his career as the third-leading scorer all-time in O’Dowd program history, a rich one which competes annually for a state title. He scored over 1,500 points in his career, while Hardy scored over 1,200 points.
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Naseem Gaskin as our North Coast Section Senior of the Year.
Other players considered for this award include Las Lomas’ Nate Robinson, Bishop O’Dowd’s Elijah Hardy, Heritage’s Jonathan Ned, and Clayton Valley’s Garrett Pascoe.