That's for good reason, of course, as the 17-year-old phenom went No. 1 overall in the recently completed First-Year Player Draft. But the three days of the Draft proved that CSN wasn't just about the top prospect. The team that advanced into the Junior College World Series had a grand total of nine players selected over the course of the 50 rounds.
"I thought we'd get more than that," Southern Nevada coach Tim Chambers said. "I thought Gabe Weidenaar, Trevor Kirk and Marvin Campbell would go."
Chambers isn't being ungrateful, he's just being honest. CSN was a very deep and talented team. Even before Harper set foot on campus, it was a junior college program that was highly thought of and having this many players drafted does give Chambers a strong sense of pride.
"It was a good team," Chambers said. "We went through a lot this year. There was someone on us all year. For a junior college team to get nine guys in the Draft, it was certainly pleasing."
Of the nine draftees, seven were from a pitching staff that finished with a 3.29 ERA and held hitters to a .235 average. There might not be anyone more pleased from that staff than Donn Roach. After a rough season at the University of Arizona, Roach transferred to CSN to try and re-start his career. He did that and more, finishing with a 12-3 record to go along with a 2.62 ERA and 142 strikeouts (vs. just 26 walks) in 111 1/3 innings pitched. That led to him being taken in the supplemental third round by the Los Angeles Angels.
"I struggled at Arizona; people called me lazy last year," Roach said. "It [stunk]. In high school, I wasn't that guy, but last year, I was. I slacked off. I deserved it, but I told myself no one would ever call me lazy again. I worked my butt off to make sure that didn't happen."
College of Southern Nevada draftees
"It's really cool to see all of them go through it and realize their drams, just like I have," Roach said. "Most Division I schools don't have that many go. It was fun to see all of my friends get drafted with me."
All season, Roach and his teammates have had to deal with an enormous amount of attention and pressure because of Harper. This was a veteran group, by JUCO standards, a roster filled largely by sophomores who understood that all the extra eyes could work to their advantage if they played their cards right.
"If we had a bunch of freshmen, even if super-talented, it would have had the makings for a disaster," Roach said. "We had sophomores who got it: 'All the people coming to see him will see us. If we do well, then we'll get a chance to go out.'"
Scouts would have come to see CSN play with or without Harper. It's a strong program that would have at least brought in area scouts with regularity. But perhaps because of Harper, evaluators were there in greater numbers and his teammates were aware of decision-makers making their way to Henderson, Nev. more frequently.
"Everyone was there for Bryce because he is who he is and he does what he does," Roach said. "This proves we had other guys, not exactly of the same caliber, but draft-worthy.
"In the end, I think it helped us to have everybody there. There were guys at every game. You had general managers and scouting directors in to see Bryce. If you showed up to play that day, you might get drafted off that one performance. But it definitely helped."
It also certainly will help College of Southern Nevada program. It already had a pretty solid reputation as a junior college program. Having Harper there gave it tons of national attention and having this many draftees has to help attract future baseball talent to its campus.
For Chambers, it's a little bittersweet. He's excited to see how this crop of players does as they hit the pro ranks, but there's a chance that he won't be doing it from CSN in the future.
"I have an interview with UNLV [Thursday]," Chambers said. "I've got a lot going on myself. I built this program myself from scratch, from 1999. I've seen what we've been able to accomplish. It might be over.
"There are 110 applicants at UNLV. I have to do what's best for me, but it'd be hard for me."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less