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March 5, 2011

Senior review: Javier Gonzalez

Sunday will mark the last home game for a pair of Wolfpack seniors. Forward Tracy Smith and guard Javier Gonzalez were part of Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe's first full recruiting class at NC State. They arrived with five-star forward J.J. Hickson, who left for the NBA after one season, and in-state forward Johnny Thomas, who transferred after his redshirt sophomore season to Marshall. Here is a a look back at the senior class, starting with Gonzalez.

Javier Gonzalez

Recruitment

Gonzalez was the last member of the four-player recruiting class. NC State was desperate for another guard in the 2007 class. They had high hopes for Chris Wright, but the one-time Wolfpack commitment surprised the NCSU coaching staff by picking Georgetown. State brought in Chris Warren for an official visit, but chose to pass on him and he signed with Ole Miss.

In February of 2007, Wolfpack assistant Monte Towe zeroed in on Gonzalez from Dr. Krop High in Miami. The Puerto Rican native was offered after Lowe saw him in action personally. Gonzalez was also considering offers from LSU, Washington State, Central Florida, Duquesne and Hofstra, but after officially visiting NC State mid-week he committed to NC State March 2.

Freshman year

As a rookie, Gonzalez missed all of preseason practice after suffering a torn ligament in his thumb in September. He missed both exhibition games but returned to practice on Nov. 5.

Gonzalez began the year as a reserve spelling Farnold Degand when the starting point guard needed a break. The freshman played 12 minutes in the season-opener against William & Mary, totaling one point, to go along with an assist and steal. In the first away game of the year, he recorded five points, two rebounds, a steal and an assist against Rider, helping the team to a 72-63 victory.

Gonzalez's minutes took a significant dip over the next four games, as he logged no more than seven minutes of action, and totaled only three points, courtesy of a three-pointer against ECU, during that span. He was on the court for 23 minutes against South Carolina State and recorded seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in the 74-49 win.

Then, the rookie received his first crack in the starting lineup following an injury to Degand and started five games, four of which were Wolfpack wins, and totaled 12 points and six assists over that stretch. His first start came in a 79-73 win at Seton Hall.

When the conference slate started, though, was when the Puerto Rico native really began heating up. After not scoring against North Carolina or Clemson, Gonzalez played at least 22 minutes in all but one of the remaining ACC contests while averaging 6.0 points and 3.3 assists per game over the final 15 contests.

Gonzalez recorded his first double-digit point effort of his career against Virginia Tech when he broke back into the starting lineup, a spot that he would not relinquish over the final 10 games of the year. In a 73-63 victory over Virginia Tech, his first start of the season-ending streak, he chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. The six-footer finished the second contest against North Carolina with six points and a season-high nine assists while coming alive from deep against Duke for 18 points and three assists during a season-best 32 minutes of action. Gonzalez was 4-of-4 from behind the arc against the Blue Devils in an 87-86 loss at home.

The point guard finished the year with 31 appearances and 15 starts for the 15-16 (4-12 ACC) Wolfpack, averaging 19.7 minutes, 3.8 points, 2.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game. As a rookie, Gonzalez shot 33 percent from the field and 28.4 percent from behind the arc. In regular-season ACC play, he started ten times and recorded averages of 24.4 minutes, 5.4 points, 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 steal. He also recorded the best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.46) in conference-play for all ACC rookies.

Sophomore year

Gonzalez did not start the first game of the year, but started the next six contests in a row, playing at least 21 minutes in each of the first seven tilts. The guard filled up the statistics sheet against North Carolina-Greensboro, totaling nine points, seven assists, six rebounds, four steals and no turnovers, helping the Pack to a 79-52 victory.

Injuries took their toll during the middle of the season, though, as the sophomore was limited to four appearances over the next 12 showdowns. Gonzalez was only able to play a total of 18 minutes during the four games he played in and was limited to just two points.

He returned to the court against North Carolina Central in limited action, playing 15 minutes off the bench while recording five points, five assists, a rebound and a steal, but he came on strong after that.

Over the season's final 10 games, including the opening-round loss to Maryland in the ACC Tournament, Gonzalez started each contest and averaged 24.6 minutes, 10.4 points, 3.7 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game. He totaled back-to-back, double-digit points for the first time in his career against Georgia Tech (14) and North Carolina (18). He hit all four of his three-point attempts against the Tar Heels and, in the regular-season finale at Miami, he set a career-high with 19 points, including a career-high five makes from downtown, in addition to four assists against just two turnovers.

For the entire campaign, Gonzalez appeared in 22 games with 16 starts, averaging 20.7 minutes, 6.6 points, 3.3 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest while helping the Pack to a 16-14 (6-10 ACC) showing. During the ACC slate, the guard tallied 12 appearances and nine starts with regular-season averages of 20.5 minutes, 8.4 points, 3.2 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. On the year, he shot 46.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from behind the arc and he was even better in regular-season games against conference foes, shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from down town. He also tallied his career-high percentage from the free throw line - 72.0 percent.

Junior year

After sharing the ball-handling duties in his first two seasons, Gonzalez distanced himself as the go-to man at the one-guard during his junior year. He would miss just one game, appearing in 35 contests and starting 33 of them. The Pack won easily, 75-57, over Georgia Southern in the lone game that Gonzalez missed.

Gonzalez came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, touting some impressive numbers in the first 14 games of the season, which included the game he missed. In the player's 13 appearances, he averaged 11.7 points, 5.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds, including six games with six assists or more.

The junior slowed the pace a little bit over the next four contests, with play being limited in some cases due to foul trouble, but rattled off 15 points and eight assists; 13 points and then tied his career-high with 19 points against No. 7 Duke (an 88-74 upset at the RBC Center), Maryland and North Carolina, respectively.

In the remaining 10 contests, Gonzalez netted double-digits points five times, including a 13 point and seven assist effort against Georgia Tech and another 19 point showing, this one against Miami.

In the second game of the ACC Tournament, the point guard came up big; totaling 13 points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds against Florida State. Gonzalez led the Pack to an appearance in the ACC semifinals, the furthest the team has advanced in the conference championships to this point in his career, and also helped the team reach the second round of the NIT before losing to UAB.

Gonzalez finished the campaign with a career-best 129 assists, almost two times the amount of the next highest player on the team; and he recorded at least five assists in 13 contests. For the season, the junior played in 35 games for the 20-16 (5-11 ACC) Pack. He averaged 25.7 minutes, 9.5 points, 3.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest while shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 37 percent from behind the arc. In ACC regular-season contests, Gonzalez started 15 games and appeared in all 16 tilts, averaging 25.7 minutes, 10.1 points, 2.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game.

Senior season

Despite the arrival of highly-touted point guard Ryan Harrow, Gonzalez entered his final campaign as the unquestioned starter at the point. The senior had started 43 of the team's 47 games at his position dating back to the 2008-09 season, and was in the starting lineup for each of the Pack's first 16 contests of the 2010-11 campaign. However, the native of Puerto Rico could not equal his solid output during the previous year and struggled - Gonzalez reached double-digit points only four times in the first 29 games and totaled four or more assists only six times.

Towards the end of the season, Gonzalez shifted into more of a shooting guard role and has averaged 8.2 points and 2.2 assists over the last five games. He enjoyed his most extensive playing time in nearly a month against Virginia on March 1, tallying 25 minutes, 16 points, four assists and just two turnovers against the Cavaliers.

Heading into the Florida State season-finale, the senior is averaging 19.5 minutes, 5.3 points, 2.3 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 0.8 steals per contest in the 2010-11 season for the 15-14 (5-10 ACC) Pack. He is shooting 36.3 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from long-range while holding career totals of 120 games played and 84 starts. His career averages include 6.4 points, 2.9 assists and 2.2 rebounds per contest.

Miscellaneous

Gonzalez was impressive in his seven career appearances against UNC, especially in his first three seasons. Before 2011, the point guard started all five contests that he played in against the Tar Heels (missing one due to injury), averaging 11.2 points and 4.6 assists per game. For his career, the six-footer averaged 10 points in all of his games against the Pack's archrivals.

Gonzalez became the 17th player in school history to dish out 300 career assists when he recorded a pair against Boston College during his senior season. He currently has 332 for his career. He hit his career-high of 19 points in a game four times, all of which came in conference play.


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