NCAAW Large 12: Shaylee Gonzales displays on season with Texas Longhorns

Almost a 12 months in the past, Shaylee Gonzales had rather a lot on her thoughts. As a 22-year-old who was in school throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she had the posh of an additional 12 months of basketball … the one query was deciding what precisely she needed to do with it.

Gonzales was blessed; she was already producing WNBA buzz and will have doubtlessly completed college and entered the draft final season if she’d actually needed to. However everybody — her household, her trainers, her coaches and herself — knew the time wasn’t proper. Now, as the top of the NCAA season looms and people all-important 4 letters maintain popping up in every single place, Gonzales is but once more at a crossroads.

However wait: we’re getting forward of ourselves.

Gonzales is in her fifth 12 months of faculty and is spending it on the University of Texas-Austin, the place she transferred after having fun with loads of success at Brigham Younger College. Whereas she beloved her time at BYU, Gonzales was hungry for one thing new and Texas has greater than delivered. She’s fast to level out that she needed to be taught rather a lot — and be taught it shortly — almost as quickly as she arrived, particularly after teammate Rori Harmon injured her foot and left a gap within the crew’s lineup.

Gonzales has amassed a powerful on-line following through social media, a bunch that basically picked up after she endured her personal damage again in 2019. She tore her ACL, an damage that might come to outline her life on the courtroom, leading to lacking months of play, and off the courtroom, giving her the chance to doc her restoration on YouTube and Instagram. The damage additionally allowed her loads of reflection, and he or she knew what sort of work can be required of her following Harmon’s foot damage — whether or not she was prepared for that work or not.

Fortuitously, Gonzales had labored with Tremaine Dalton of The Course of Basketball forward of her season with UT, and the 2 spent important time taking part in to her strengths. As Dalton says, “We got here into it figuring out she performs a two and three, and quite a lot of our work was half courtroom to organize her for that position in Texas. When Shaylee moved into Rori’s position, it was apparent to start with that taking part in some extent guard was international — not that she wasn’t good at it, but it surely was new to her, particularly at that degree and that tempo. As soon as Rori got here again, she and Shaylee have been capable of counter off one another. It’s clear now that Shaylee is doing properly in her pure place.”

When speaking about that point interval now, it’s even a bit of humorous. Gonzales laughs and admits, “I didn’t need to transfer into Rori’s spot” however knew that she needed to for the crew. Beforehand comfy as a mixture guard (two and three), she shortly moved into the purpose guard and started operating performs. It took a cycle or two to discover a groove, however Gonzales took off and did what Texas wanted her to do, interval.

In some methods, Gonzales is just like one in all her favourite gamers, the Aces’ Kelsey Plum. Gonzales cites Plum’s potential — “She’s fast and environment friendly, and I really like watching her play” — as a serious cause why she gravitates to the 5-foot-8 guard. The vitality in her face as she describes watching Plum play is tangible; clearly, Gonzales is trying as much as among the greatest.

With regards to her personal profession, Gonzales is clearly already interested by what may occur this spring, and possibly even this summer season. Gonzales is coy, clearly unwilling (or maybe unable) to be particular, however anybody concerned with NCAA basketball is aware of the choices obtainable: one other 12 months together with her crew, or the WNBA draft.

She smiles when requested straight what her plans are, pauses, and muses, “I’m unsure. I’m taking it day-to-day.” She then provides, “If we make it to the NCAA Ultimate 4, I’m spending one other 12 months in class.” UT was No. 13 within the NCAA choice committee’s Thursday Prime 16 reveal (so a No. 4 seed). The explanation the Longhorns weren’t greater is that they didn’t dwell as much as expectations early this season. However they have been No. 3 within the nation within the preseason and head coach Vic Schaefer has gotten them to the Elite Eight each of the final two seasons (and a kind of years they have been a No. 6 seed), so the Ultimate 4 remains to be a practical purpose.

Gonzales then makes one factor crystal clear: her one and solely purpose after she leaves school — whether or not that 12 months is 2023 or 2024?

“Going professional.”