Desirae Gonzalez (3)One of the best basketball players in Kingman High School history has returned to the hardwoods after a nine month-long ACL injury interruption. Desirae Gonzales was hurt last February, late in her senior season at KHS.

Gonzales, a 5’ 11” guard, averaged a double-double her junior year as a Lady Bulldog with 29.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The sharp shooting sniper and three point specialist averaged 27.7 points per game her senior season to stake claim to the 11th highest scoring girls basketball player in Arizona prep history.

Gonzalez underwent surgery in April before months of grueling rehab allowed her to join her Wolfpack teammates for her first college game December 29.

“It was crazy. I remember the feeling I had when I was sitting on the court stretching before the game, looking around, finally able to lace up my shoes, put on my jersey, get out there with the team,” Gonzalez said. Her prep to collegiate play transition has seen Gonzalez evolve from the best player on the floor to a higher level of talent and competition.

“It was something to get used to for sure because instead of being taller than everybody and stronger than everybody, people were now taller than me and stronger than me and can do the same things I can,” Gonzalez said. “They can shoot the ball, they can drive the lane and they can rebound. It’s almost like you’re learning the game again.”

Gonzalez is looking forward to a homecoming of sorts on Wednesday, February 8. The Lady Wolfpack will battle the Runnin Rebels at the Thomas and Mack Center at UNLV, allowing her Kingman area friends and family to see her play.

“Yes! I’ve been waiting for this game all season long, actually ever since I decided I was going to come here (UNR) and I looked at the schedule and realized that we were going to play at UNLV after my ACL tear and everything,” Gonzalez said. “One of my biggest goals was to get back playing on the court before we played at UNLV so whoever wanted to watch back home could come and see the game. Even if I don’t play as many minutes as I did in high school, just to be back on the court in front of a hometown crowd is going to be a bitter, bittersweet moment.”

Tip off is set for 6:00 p.m., Nevada time.

Gonzalez, a business major interested in a possible future in medical facility management, said it’s been tough dealing with the rigors of being a student-athlete at the college level.

“When you’re younger you hear that athletes don’t have a social life when you’re in college. It’s kind of true,” she said. At the same time she said she’s working hard to navigate the demanding mix of classes, studies, rehab, practice, games and travel and is looking forward to completing her degree at UNR.

Gonzalez’ parents, Danny and Missy, both played some college basketball. Danny was her coach at KHS.

“You have no idea how proud we are of her. Her work ethic has been so impressive,” Gonzalez said. “She doesn’t whine. She always pushed to work harder. Her mother and I can’t say enough about what she’s done.”

Gonzalez said he expects some 50 or more friends and family members to attend Wednesday’s game. “We hope the support will be there for her.”