Dale Haaland didn’t play a down of college football, but the former Gonzaga forward briefly stoked the interest of a Seattle Seahawks scout who thought his 6-foot-8 frame and good feet could lead to a spot on an NFL roster.
But Haaland, a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection in 1986 and 1987, looked the part when he played for the late Dan Fitzgerald.
“(Fitzgerald) liked big guys that looked like tight ends to run his flex offense back in those Gonzaga days,” said Haaland, who began his college career at Community Colleges of Spokane.
Three decades, an overseas professional career, a family and a Post Falls home detail business later, Haaland sees similar size and strength at Lakeland High School.
The Hawks (3-3) feature a starting lineup of 6-8, 6-8, 6-6, 6-4 and 6-2.
Among the sizable forwards is Ammon Munyer, who will play tight end at one of the several Division I schools who’ve offered the football player a scholarship in recent months.
Haaland’s son, 6-foot-8 wing Noah Haaland, also hopes to sign a letter of intent before graduation.
The burgeoning senior – admittedly a late bloomer like his father when he starred in little Leavenworth, Washington – has talked to several small colleges, but believes he might have the tools to set his sights higher.
Noah can attack the rim – he recently had four dunks and 25 points in a 91-65 win over Idaho small-school power Lapwai – and can shoot from the outside.
The Classical Christian Academy student could grow two more inches, he said, matching his 6-10 brother and Community Colleges of Spokane center, Josiah Haaland.
“He hasn’t even touched his potential yet,” Lakeland coach Dave Stockwell said. “He is a violent dunker. As soon as he recognizes when to (take a pull-up jumper), he’ll be even better.
He has one of the best-looking jump shots.”
Dale Haaland, who married former Coeur d’Alene high multisport standout and ex-Gonzaga volleyball player Robyn Benson, agreed.
“Noah has always had a strong work ethic. A motor. It’s been fun watching him develop,” said Dale, formerly an assistant coach at Lakeland. “He was much more athletic than I was in high school.”
Noah, an All-Inland Empire League selection, averages around 15 points and 10 rebounds for the balanced Hawks, whose roster also features double-figure machines in 6-8 Jalen Skalskiy and All-IEL guard Carson Seay.
“A state championship is our goal,”Noah said. “We’ve lost some close games to good 5A teams, but there were times we were missing a player or were playing selfishly. We have the talent.”
Lakeland returns four starters from a team that went 18-6 last season but lost to eventual state runner-up Moscow in the 4A District I tournament.
The Hawks, which haven’t been to state since back-to-back appearances in 2015 and 2016, have been steady in recent years.
Stockwell, who led Post Falls to a fourth-place finish in 2005 with standout son Scott Stockwell, believes this is the most physically gifted team he’s ever coached.
“Of all the years I’ve coached boys basketball, this is the biggest and most skilled team I have coached,” said Stockwell, who was also a Gonzaga women’s assistant in the late 1990s.
Sons of two former Division I athletes, the Haaland boys not only got height from a 6-8 father and 6-foot mother, but also the ability to leap.
Dale Haaland often played above the rim at Gonzaga, where he had career averages of 10 points and 6.7 rebounds, back when the top-ranked Bulldogs needed to recruit the local junior-college circuit.
“It’s definitely a big deal around here that he played (at Gonzaga),” Noah said.
He would like to watch old game film of his dad, but hasn’t.
“Gonzaga always told me they would send me some of those tapes,” Dale said. “But they’re probably in an attic somewhere.”
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