The 1979 Seattle SuperSonics, the city’s only championship team at the time, were being honored during an NBA game in the early 2000s at KeyArena, and some of the greats – Freddy Brown, Jack Sikma and Gus Williams, among them – stuck around afterward to sign autographs for fans.
Yet all eyes were on a toddler off to the side of the court dribbling a basketball so magically that it caught even the attention of Williams, known in his playing days as “The Wizard,” who walked over to introduce himself.
It was Brock Ravet, maybe 2 or 3 years old at the time.
Little did Williams or anyone else know that this kid from the small town of Kittitas would years later earn a full-ride scholarship to one of the most prolific basketball programs in the nation – Gonzaga University.
Brock’s mother, Julie, said her son didn’t think he was on Gonzaga’s radar.
“He had no clue,” Julie said, of her son’s offer from Gonzaga.
Basketball from the beginning
It wasn’t long after Brock started walking that he also began dribbling. His father, Tim, says he was performing two-ball dribble exercises in the kitchen by the time he was 2. The family had a plastic hoop in the living room, and Julie struggled to find any other toy that could distract Brock from basketball.
Years went by and not much changed. Family walks consisted of Brock with either one or two basketballs. On the Ravet family trip to Disneyland, Brock would dribble his way from ride to ride.
“Two-ball dribbles between your legs and behind your back,” Tim said. “He had a ball in his hands all the time.”
A Kittitas High grad himself who enjoyed a couple of State B appearances as a player, Tim worked his way from assistant girls basketball coach at the school to eventually becoming head boys coach, all while running the family’s tarp business with his father, Dick.
Early on, Brock tagged along with his dad, watching in the stands at practices.
As he started playing organized basketball, it took a while for Brock to get comfortable on the court. A shy kid growing up, Brock detested pressure. After games, he’d punish himself with extra practice because he felt badly that he didn’t contribute enough. Over time, those game-time jitters began to erode.
“As a kid I was super nervous when I got on the court, I don’t even know how to describe it,” Brock said with a chuckle. “Sometimes I wouldn’t even do anything – I would just stand in the corner.”
Then came his first big pressure-packed breakthrough.
At age 9, Brock finished fifth at the Elks National Hoop Shoot contest in 2009 – a competition featuring 3 million children across the country, each required to shoot 25 free throws, with contestants whittled down through local, district, state and regional contests before the last remaining shooters reach the finals in Springfield, Massachusetts, home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The following year, Brock did even better, winning the boys’ 10-11 age bracket after sinking 24 of 25 foul shots in the final. His name is enshrined at the basketball hall.
“All those kind of experiences gives you confidence, even though it’s free throws,” Tim said. “I was told by a guy that it would never have anything to do with basketball. That’s so far from the truth of the development of being mentally tough in situations of the form, pressure and just dealing with all that. It makes you become not just an athlete, but an overall somebody that can deal with that kind of pressure.”
Kittitas doesn’t have many residents – roughly 1,500 in the Central Washington region. So, attracting attention from bigger colleges is difficult. The secondary school houses sixth- through 12th-graders and has approximately 375 students.
With options limited for highly competitive basketball in the region, the Ravets turned to AAU for a better level of play. From about third grade on, Brock began playing for select teams, some coached by his father.
As years have gone by, Brock has played for several AAU squads – the Seattle Select, Eastern Washington Elite and most recently, Washington Supreme in the Under Armour Circuit – and has competed with and against a plethora of high-schoolers who also have Division I offers.
“Of course, during the year you’re not going to get as good of competition in high school games,” Brock said. “But this last year, I played for the Washington Supreme team, so that definitely helped me expose myself to better competition.”
That outlet for competition is what has helped the Ravets remain in their hometown. Tim says the decision to send Brock to Kittitas was based around where he could become the most well-rounded person, while still getting a high-level basketball experience.
“It’s not always about trying to get a scholarship, it’s ‘Where’s your kid going to grow up and be in a community where it’s safe, fun, competitive and an experience they will remember forever,’” Tim said.
“He’s had it both ways where he’s played in a small school, but he’s also played on the Under Armour team; Eastern Washington Elite; Seattle Select, teams that travel all over the place and see the best athletes. He’s kind of had the best of both worlds. He gets to be in a community where they support basketball and love it, appreciate kids that put in a lot of time. But also, in the summer time and outside the season of playing at high-level basketball.”
And as Kittitas has thrived as a team – the Coyotes have won back-to-back Class 2B championships and with five seniors back, appear primed for another title run when the State B Tournament tips off this week in Spokane – it’s given Tim and Brock even more basketball experiences to bond over.
“Those are like some of my best memories,” Tim said of his playing days. “I always wanted my son to play in that tournament. Spokane makes a big deal out of it. It’s the best tournament of all the different levels.”
Brock, a four-year starter who won last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year award, has grown even more as a player this season. In addition to scoring nearly 30 points per game, he also averages 10 assists and almost 10 rebounds for the 25-1 Coyotes. The lone loss came to St. George’s in late November, a rematch of last season’s State 2B championship game won by Kittitas.
The highlight this season came on Feb. 1, when the 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard broke the all-time Washington state scoring record of 2,851 points held by Lance Den Boer of Sunnyside Christian.
His 36 points in Saturday’s 2B regional win over Lake Roosevelt helped him eclipse 3,000 during a four-year career that has seen his Coyotes win 92 of 100 games, including a 75-2 mark over the last three seasons.
During that run, he’s come up biggest in some of his team’s biggest games. In the 2016-17 title game, Brock, then a sophomore, dropped 46 points on Liberty in a 72-69 victory. In the championship game last year, he scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the 65-50 win over St. George’s.
“It’s been super special,” Brock said. “Especially last year, we were up by 15 in the championship, so you could kind of enjoy it when the buzzer is about to go off.
“It’s honestly the best feeling I ever had.”
Brock attracted early interest after Kittitas won the state championship his sophomore season. Eastern Washington and Portland each offered scholarships. Washington State and Oregon State also came calling.
But none of those were his dream school – that was Gonzaga University.
For years, the Ravets have been huge Zags fans and have attended many games, including the Final Four in 2016. Brock’s goal was always to play for them, but he wasn’t necessarily expecting an offer, particularly receiving one after three days at a Gonzaga summer camp.
“When it happened, it didn’t seem real at all – I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
After the 2016-17 State 2B championship game, Bud Barnes, a business professor at Gonzaga, reached out to longtime Zags assistant coach Tommy Lloyd and told him about this kid from Kittitas he just watched.
“Obviously, you get a lot of those as a coach, and you kind of take it with a grain of salt,“ Lloyd said in regard to others reaching out to him about potential players.
That summer, the Kittitas team attended Gonzaga’s annual summer basketball camp, the second year in a row they had done so.
And it didn’t take long for Brock to get the attention of Lloyd and GU coach Mark Few.
“We fell in love with him on the spot, and at the end of the camp, we ended up offering him a scholarship,” Lloyd said. “He’s got a great combination of skill and feel. Skill with his ability to shoot the ball and his ability to handle the ball. Feel with his ability to pass it and play at a great pace and tempo.
“You do have to ask yourself, ‘Will what he does work at our level?’ Coming from such a lower level of playing B school basketball, it’s a fair question. But when we saw Brock play, I think we were pretty confident right away that what he did would be effective at our level.”
But what stuck out most to the Gonzaga coaches was how willingly Brock passed to teammates during the games at the camp. It’s what has brought so much success to the Kittitas boys team – his ability to spread the ball around, break down the defense and find the right shot.
After the third or fourth game they watched Brock play at the camp, Lloyd went up to Tim and asked what Brock would say if they offered him a scholarship to play for them. Tim, knowing Gonzaga had always been Brock’s dream, told Lloyd he imagined his son would say ‘yes,’ but didn’t want to take that away from him.
“Obviously, when they offered, it’s kind of like the girl of your dreams – it was no-brainer for him,” Tim said.
With his Gonzaga dream secured, it’s now up to Brock to enjoy these last remaining moments with his teammates at Kittitas, which means State B and a potential third straight 2B title.
Tim hopes his son can appreciate this final run and not put too much pressure on himself.
“This last year or so has been the toughest,” Tim said. “I want to make sure I am giving him every opportunity, pushing him without pushing him too hard and having him enjoy it. But also, not try to enjoy it so much that he doesn’t keep continuing to get better.
“He’s ready to move on to, but I just hope he enjoys and appreciates this class. This team is something he’s going to appreciate when he gets old and the experiences they had and the things they have accomplished.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the Ellensburg Daily Record.
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