A force of nature over his senior season, Centennial Centaurs' forward Dominic Parolin announced Saturday that he will play college basketball next season in the Patriot Conference at Lehigh University. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)
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Dominic Parolin: Despite the challenges of recruiting, Centennial’s superstar big man finds his fit at NCAA Div. 1 Lehigh University

COQUITLAM — The world changed virtually overnight following the completion of the 2020 B.C. senior boys basketball championships on March 7.

And with COVID-19 world pandemic very suddenly the new reality, Centennial senior forward Dominic Parolin quickly realized that the recruiting process he had waited years to be a part of was going to be a very different kind of process.

“At first I was scared that I was not going to be able to find a good fit, that I wouldn’t be able to meet the coaches in person and be able to go to the campuses,” Parolin said Saturday morning. “But in the end, I was able to get more than enough information.”

With all of that said, the 6-foot-8, 225 pound forward, who averaged 34 points and 18.3 rebounds per game in leading the Centaurs to a fifth-place finish at the recent B.C. Quad-A tournament, announced that he would begin his collegiate career next fall at Lehigh University, playing for the NCAA Div. 1 Mountain Hawks, a Patriot Conference member based in Bethlehem, Pa.

A player whose game is continuing to evolve away from the basket, Parolin was nonetheless one of the most unstoppable forces in the paint over his senior season.

Over the course of the regular season he averaged 28 points and 19 rebounds per game, helped the Centaurs to an extended stay at No. 1 in the top-tiered rankings, and was named Fraser North zone MVP.

Centennial was among a handful of projected favourites to win the provincial title but were upset in the quarterfinals by North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals.

“I don’t think we’ll see a player with the very same combination of skills like Dominic’s in quite a while,” said Rob Sollero, who coached Parolin over his final four seasons of high school basketball at Centennial.

Parolin, a math whiz and overall blue-chip academic achiever as well, had drawn considerable interest from the Ivy League, yet Lehigh had a spot open up on its roster when Surrey native James Karnik elected to enter the transfer portal.

Parolin’s club coaches at DRIVE Basketball Academy reached out to Lehigh, “and I really found a fit,” said Parolin, who on one conference call spoke not only with the coaching staff led by head coach Dr. Brett Reed, but members of their families as well.

“They were so family-oriented,” said Parolin, whose dad Dave was an assistant coach on his Centennial high school team.

Another great example of that?

With Reed’s wife holding a phone, the coach walked Parolin through a virtual tour of the historic campus which was established in 1865, two years before Canadian confederation.

There was also a comical virtual moment which transpired before Parolin sewed up his commitment to Lehigh.

Because Parolin and Reed had never met face-to-face, the coach needed to be certain he was recruiting the same 6-foot-8 player he was seeing on tape.

“So I stood by a doorway with a measuring tape while my dad held the phone,” said Parolin.

Centennial’s Dominic Parolin was the subject of intense defensive scrutiny from every team he faced over high senior varsity high school basketball career. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)

The program he will join next season is best known for its 2012 bracket-busting run at the NCAA tournament.

Lehigh became just the sixth No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed when it shocked the Duke Blue Devils 75-70 that season in Greensboro, NC, while being led by current Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum.

Sollero admits he has been thoroughly impressed by both Parolin’s intense tenacity, as well as his constant improvement as a player.

“He has put in a tremendous amount of time working on his perimetre skills, and with that he has developed his passing and his three-point shot,” said Sollero. “Now, he’s an inside-out player and I think it’s very likely he plays at the four spot there because of his perimetre ability.”

As the single-most dominant player in B.C. over his senior year, Parolin capped his high school career by scoring 50 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in the Centaurs’ 78-66 win over Oak Bay at the B.C.’s.

As well, he had been selected to play in the Biosteel All-Canadian game, this country’s version of the McDonald’s All-American game.

The craziest part?

“He’s only getting better and he’s still only 17,” said Sollero of Parolin, whose mid-December birthday made him weeks shy of qualifying as a Grade 11 this past season.

The loss to Handsworth at provincials stung, yet Parolin is looking at the big picture with a lot of satisfaction.

“In the grand scheme, I thought our whole team really developed from being an average team in Grade 9,” he said of a group which includes Leif Skelding, a Trinity Western Spartans’ recruit. “We were all dedicated to getting better, and then we were ranked No. 1 for a significant portion of the season. It was all a great experience.”

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