After one year at Nevada, Desirae Gonzalez is heading back to her home state to join the Northern Arizona women’s basketball program. Head coach Loree Payne announced the addition of Gonzalez, a graduate of Kingman High School, on Monday. Gonzalez will join the Lumberjacks in the fall and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
“It’s an incredible homecoming for her with both of her parents being NAU alums,” Payne said. “She’s always wanted to be a Lumberjack and it’s worked out very serendipitously that she’s able to come here and get a fresh start. Desirae is a heck of a player and she led the state of Arizona in scoring as a junior in high school. She can absolutely put the ball in bucket from anywhere on the floor.”
Gonzalez, from Kingman, Ariz., was actually born in Flagstaff. Both of parents are Northern Arizona University graduates, as are a number of her aunts, uncles and cousins. Her mother, Melissa, played three seasons on the NAU women’s basketball team from 1986-89 and her cousin, Chelena Betoney, just graduated this spring following a season with the Lumberjacks.
Payne envisions Gonzalez, standing at 5-10, to be a versatile asset to her initial roster with the ability to play the stretch four position or out on the wing.
As a true freshman this past season at Nevada, Gonzalez appeared in 18 games – all in Mountain West play – and averaged 3.1 points in 12.3 minutes per game. She missed the first 11 games of the season recovering from an injury. She recorded six points and four rebounds in just eight minutes of action in her collegiate debut versus San Jose State and enjoyed her best outing of her debut campaign at Boise State in a season-high 22 minutes. She scored 12 points and shot 5-for-8 from the field with a pair of three-pointers.
Prior to arriving in Reno, Gonzalez starred at Kingman High School where she played for her father. A two-time All-Arizona Division II First Team selection and Section Player of the Year, she averaged 23.5 points per game over her four-year prep career including nearly 30 points per game in her final two seasons. As a junior, she led the entire state in scoring with 29.7 points per game, in addition to 10.7 rebounds per game in the first of two seasons in which she averaged a double-double.
A three-sport athlete (basketball, volleyball, track & field) at Kingman, she left as the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Gonzalez also finished 11th all-time in the state in scoring.
“It was a struggle for her while she rehabbed from her injury, but she was able to play some minutes as a freshman at Nevada,” Payne said. “We’re just very fortunate that it worked out for her to come home and have the opportunity to make an impact on our program. She wants to create her own identity, but the tradition of NAU women’s basketball being passed down from one generation to the next is pretty special.”