Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week

Besides being the Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) all-time rebounding leader, Washington State-bound 6-foot-7 senior Richard Longrus carries a 4.06 GPA. Harold Abend/ESPNHS

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With All-American Brandon Ashley starring at Findlay Prep, Bishop O’Dowd remains a threat for D3 state title behind Washington State-bound Richard Longrus Jr.

Four-year varsity basketball player Richard Longrus from Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland was all grins and smiles until it came time to take his picture.

“That’s not me,” he told teammates who teased him about his serious look for the camera.

Maybe it’s because Longrus takes much of his business on and off the court very seriously.

Last week, just prior to Senior Night when the Dragons posted an 88-39 Hayward Area Athletic League victory over Hayward, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Washington State bound 4.06 GPA student-athlete was presented with a plaque.

The reason is that earlier this month Longrus broke the school’s all-time career rebounding mark of 797 held by 1982 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Tony Jackson.

Now, besides the plaque, Longrus has a certificate.

For performances last week, all year, and as a four-year starter that had him at 850 career rebounds going into a CIF North Coast Section Division III quarterfinal matchup on Friday night with Hercules, Longrus has been named the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week.

Against Hayward, Longrus finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds in limited action. Earlier in the week against host Hayward Mt. Eden, Longrus had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks.

So far this season, “Junior” as Dragons’ coach Doug Vierra affectionately calls him, has scored 307 points, grabbed 247 rebounds, and has 68 blocks and 76 assists.

For his career, the four-year starter has 976 points to go with his record rebounds.

"He's a very unselfish player,” said prep writer Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group. “If he wanted to dominate every game offensively, I'm sure he could. But he's just as satisfied contributing to his team defensively and doing a lot of the little things to help them win."

Coach’s comments

“He could be resting on his laurels, but instead he’s been on a tear the last few games, plus he’s working harder in practice now than any time this season,” said Vierra, a religious studies teacher at O’Dowd who is in his sixth year at the helm after coaching six years at Oakland High.

“You hear it way too much when people say a kid is an awesome player but a better person, but with Junior it really fits. That’s the kind of kid he is. He leaves his mark, not in a boisterous way but genuine.”

Leadership and Teammates

“I’m the only guy that’s been here four years so the guys respond to me. They know I know what works for the team. They respect me and I respect them, and we’re friends on and off the court, but if I have to get on someone it’s not personal. It’s about getting Ws.”

No Brandon Ashley

When McDonald’s All-American Brandon Ashley left O’Dowd for Findlay Prep after last season ,things changed for Longrus and the team.

“I definitely had to take on a bigger role. It was imperative I put points on the board. As a team, it’s hindered us a little but it hasn’t been a glaring difference. We’re up to the challenge. We realize what we need to do.”

Team goals

O’Dowd has been to two straight CIF Division III state championships, and although the Dragons nearly won both games, they’ve come up empty.

“The last two years have been on our minds all year. If we’re not going hard, the coaches are quick to remind us about it. The goal of goals is to get back to Sacramento.”

Community service

Besides his on-court and academic achievements, Longrus is active at school and in the community.

“I’m involved in the Campus Ministry Team and I’ve led two retreats and help with charity events. I also volunteer at the (East Oakland) Reach Academy.”


Richard Longrus Sr. is a local referee that also does basketball training. “My dad has a bigger love for basketball than anyone I know but he didn’t play growing up in San Francisco.”

Richard’s mother, Lisa Royster, does customer service for a shipping company.

Older sister Linnice Longrus is off on her own with a little girl.

Little brother Franklin Longrus is already 6-foot-1 and a freshman on the O’Dowd JV team.

“He’s got more bounce than me; been able to dunk since seventh-grade. He could be better than me and we’re getting him there, but I’ll never tell him that.”

Future plans

“The ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, but if not architecture is my main passion or a possible career in business,” said Longrus, who took AP courses in environmental science and psychology this semester.


Movie: “Space Jam.”

Music: “I like a little of everything except country, mostly hip-hop and R and B.”

Vacation spot: “Jamaica.”

Car: “Maybach.”

Three things Richard looks forward to in college: “Getting wins on the court, winning championships and being on my own.”

Three tips for kids at Reach Academy

“Work harder than everyone else. Be a tiresome worker on and off the court, in everything. Persevere through unpleasant situations – and pursue things you’re passionate about because it makes the first two things a lot easier.”

You can send AOW nominations to mark.tennis@espn.com or tweet them to us @CalHiSports. Don't forget to follow Harold Abend on Twitter: @HaroldAbend