Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Stephen Zimmeran interview with Las Vegas Sun
There’s only one thing left for Stephen Zimmerman to accomplish in his storied high school basketball career.
Bishop Gorman High is playing this week for its fourth straight Division I state championship, giving the 7-foot center a chance to cement his legacy by becoming the first large-school classification player to win four titles. Gorman plays Galena High of Reno at 8 p.m. Thursday in the state semifinals and two wins shy of becoming the second in classification history to win four consecutive crowns. Valley from 1980-83 was the first to win four straight.
Zimmerman’s other records and personal accolades will eventually be broken or matched — maybe not in the next year or decade, but eventually another star player will come around. This honor, though, could only be equaled.
“It would be huge. It would top (my career) off,” he said of a fourth championship. “We can’t go out any other way than besides that.”
Zimmerman is a McDonald’s All-American, won a gold medal last summer with Team USA, participated in prestigious showcase games and camps, and has been honored multiple times as one of Las Vegas’ best players. He’s a five-star recruiting prospect who can handpick his college — Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and UNLV are his final five.
But helping bring another championship banner for the Gorman gym, which would give the powerhouse program its 17th all-time state title, is his sole focus. Last week, when Gorman beat Palo Verde for its seventh straight Sunset Regional championship, Zimmerman became the school’s all-time leader in wins with 112.
“This would be a big accomplishment for him and for the school. Even as a freshman, Zimm came off the bench for us and gave us good minutes,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “It would be a big thing for him to leave a legacy.”
Zimmerman was a reserve as a freshman on a team with four top-100 recruiting prospects, including second-year NBA player Shabazz Muhammad. As a sophomore in 2013, he was impossible for Centennial to stop in the state title game. The past two years, he's teamed with 6-foot-11 forward Chase Jeter, another McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, for arguably the best one-two punch in state history.
All that’s left is winning two more games. It’s a legacy that will be tough to match.
“You definitely want to have a strong legacy and be able to leave knowing my senior year we have a banner up in the gym,” Jeter said. “That is very important for me and all the other guys on the team.”
While most expect Gorman to have no problems with Galena, the Gaels aren’t overlooking their semifinal opponent. In 2011, Gorman was upset by Bishop Manogue of Reno in the semifinals, also at the Orleans Arena, in putting coaches and players on high alert.
In one game, anything can happen.
“Galena is solid. A lot of seniors on that team and they’ve been together for awhile,” Rice said. “They just play the right way. The are really solid.”
In the first state semifinal at 4:40 p.m. Thursday, three-time Sunrise champion Canyon Springs of North Las Vegas plays Palo Verde. Canyon Springs, the 2011 state champions, lost in the finals last season to Gorman.