A back injury kept Josh Gonzalez from doing all of things he had envisioned for his senior basketball season at the Sage College of Albany. Off the court he never missed a beat, and produced some impressive stats of a different kind.
"Intense happiness," is the way the Canajoharie High School graduate described his feeling when informed that he had been named Sage's Male Dean Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year. "I knew all the time I put into it paid off."
The annual award goes to the institution's senior male student-athlete with the highest grade-point average. Gonzalez put together a 3.70 GPA as a junior, and the sports and recreation management major topped it with a 3.80 this recently-concluded academic year.
"Our coaching staff congratulates Josh on a tremendous honor in being recognized as Sage's male scholar athlete of the year." Sage College men's basketball coach Brian Barnes said. "Josh exhibits a daily work ethic, attitude and attention to detail that provide a strong foundation for his success as a person and also as a student athlete."
Gonzalez said he passed on some good times while piling up some great grades.
"I made a lot of sacrifices. I worked on weekends and Saturday nights. It took a lot of time and effort," the 6-foot-7 Gonzalez said. "Time management was a huge variable. I planned out my days. I had to find the pieces of the puzzle and put it together."
Gonzalez's GPA improved in each of his four semesters at Sage College, and three times he was named to the Empire 8 President's List. As a junior he was selected as an NABC Honors Court member and was nominated for the recognition again as a senior.
"I always try to go up and beyond on and off the court," the 22-year-old said.
As a senior Gonzalez tried hard when on the basketball court, but a bulging disc in his lower back limited him to two starts and 20 game appearances, when he averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.
"After averaging nearly a double-double [as a junior] I was looking forward to a big season," Gonzalez said. "It was hard. I never found a grove."
His first year at Sage was a different story. Gonzalez had five double-doubles and averaged 11.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per outing. He played in 25 games and started 22 of them, and recorded highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds three on three different occasions. Four times he was the high scorer, and 10 times he was the Gators' high rebounder.
"When I am out there I want to get every rebound. Shut down my man. Set screens and do what I can to help other guys get open," Gonzalez said. "Getting after it is my MO."
Gonzalez got after it good his senior season at Canajoharie when he averaged 18.4 points and 16 rebounds and was selected the Western Athletic Conference Northern Division co-MVP. He attended Cazenovia College the following year after a brief prep school stay and averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 games, and moved on to UAlbany as a sophomore but didn't make the basketball team as a walk-on candidate.
"Coach Barnes recruited me out of high school, but they didn't have sports management," said Gonzalez, whose dad, Dave Gonzalez, is the athletic director at Schenectady County Community College. "At the end of my sophomore year he [Barnes] came back to me and said they were implementing sports management there. I wanted to stay close to home, and I wanted to play."
Gonzalez has plans to play again for Sage College, and will use his final year of eligibility next school year to do so while studying for his master's in organizational management.
"Being a small-town kid, I want to let people know that anything is possible. No matter where you are from," Gonzalez said. "A lot of my recruiting came from playing AAU with the Albany City Rocks. Get your name out there, and be confident in what you do."