INDIANAPOLIS (KPLC) - Former Washington-Marion Charging Indian Mark Vital Jr. is a national champion. The Lake Charles native helped the Baylor Bears dominate Gonzaga, 86-70 in the 2021 Men’s NCAA Championship Game in Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s the Bears’ first national championship in program history.
Following the game, Vital was on his hands and knees on the floor soaking in the moment.
“Everyone knows how long I’ve been here and what I’ve been through. What, 18 years,” joked Vital during Baylor’s welcome home reception. “Since I redshirted, it’s been a struggle, so to win the national championship with this great group of guys, coaches and staff, it means a lot.”
Vital was vital in the championship game as he brought down 11 rebounds and surpassed his season average with six total points. His presence in the post helped the Bears shut down the nation’s No. 1 offense holding Gonzaga to nearly 22 points under their season average.
“We have some dogs. We went in with the mindset that nobody could mess with us. We have the best guards in the nation and I heard them say that they had the best bigs, and I took that as disrespect,” admitted Vital. “Flo and John did a great job. They set the tone.”
Despite being a redshirt senior, Vital has the option of returning for another year with the Bears, but Vital admitted he’s not going to return for a sixth season.
“No, I’m not coming back. I love y’all too, but I’m not coming back.