Posted On: 08/1/18 6:50 PM

Skilled big men come at a premium in today’s game of basketball, and North Branch’s Zach Gazda has emerged as one of the better centers around after a stellar grassroots campaign.

Gazda now stands 6-foot-9 and has filled out his frame over the spring and summer playing with the MN Crossfire 17U team coached by Nate Bellefeuille. Crossfire closed out their season 26-16 with a solid spot at #16 in the NHR grassroots rankings and Zach was pleased with the experience.

“For AAU this summer I enjoyed being with a great group of guys and winning the Summer Jam in Sioux Falls,” he said. “I also loved the coaching staff we had this year.”

As August looms and a break from organized basketball activities begins, the focus shifts back to high school season and the Vikings of North Branch, where a lull in Mississippi 8 dominance could mean a jump for Gazda and his teammates. Zach believes there’s promise on the horizon. “North Branch is going to be looking brand new this year with only 2 starters returning including myself. The group we have coming into the season is by far the most cohesive group we have had in a long time,” he explained.

A record of 7-21 is looking to be improved upon and the momentum is rocking in the Viking ship after a big upset win in the playoffs over Hibbing last season. For Zach, preparation is key to lead his team and personally he is using the weight room as a kickstarter.

“I have improved my strength greatly this summer hitting the weight room daily. Along with getting stronger I believe that has contributed to my defense and rebounding. As for things I need to improve, I have been working extremely hard to get my shot as consistent as possible so my shooting percentage gets higher and I can be more efficient this season.”

His regular improvement of skills over the summer has caught attention of many schools at all levels. Zach recently visited St. John’s in Collegeville and has heard from multiple other D3s. He attended the Southwest MN State camp and went to the Bemidji State camp on Wednesday. A Division 1 school has reached out to him as well.

Height, agility, strength, shooting ability, rebounding? Sounds like an impact player. Make sure to keep an eye on Zach and North Branch this winter.