Going, going, Gonzo

Zach Smart

Adam Gonzalez came to Quinnipiac with aspirations to help resurrect an ailing program and eventually use his success on the hardwood as a launching pad for an opportunity to play professional basketball.

Consider the goals accomplished.

Gonzalez, a 6-foot-3 senior who helped pioneer the Bobcats to back-to-back Northeast Conference post-season berths – including an appearance in the NEC semi-finals – has signed a professional contract with Carolina of the Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN), Puerto Rico’s professional league.

“I’m real excited,” said Gonzalez, a high-octane off-guard who averaged 15.3 points while handing out a team-high 96 assists en route to helping pioneer the Bobcats to a 14-15 (11-7 NEC) season that concluded with an 83-69 loss at Sacred Heart March 4.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I feel I have to take advantage of.”

Gonzalez was the second pick in the second round of the 2007 BSN draft. He officially inked with Carolina March 28.

Prior to his signing, Gonzalez worked out and scrimmaged with the team, which is coached by Alfred Lee and features former Seton Hall forward Andre Sweet.

Lee, who had a storied career at Marquette before playing with the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers during his time in the NBA, is known to the basketball outside world as “Butch Lee.”

“They [Carolina] flew me out [to Puerto Rico] for spring break and it was a great couple of nights down there,” Gonzalez said. “I practiced with them and played in one scrimmage. I got to play 16 minutes, I scored 10 points and had four assists. I think they were really excited about the way I played with them. They wanted me to sign with them.”

Though quite far away, Gonzalez said he felt right at home during his recent stay at Puerto Rico.

“There’s like five New York kids on our squad,” said Gonzalez, a Bronx native. “When I was out there I got pretty cool with a bunch of the players. We gelled on and off the court and stuck together.”

With his signing, Gonzalez becomes Quinnipiac’s third player in as many years to ink with a professional club.

In 2005, forward C.J. Vick signed with Sangalhos Desporto Club in the Portuguese Pro Liga, Portugal’s professional basketball league. In 2006, forward Kevin Jolley signed with team Lawrence (SBR) in the SB DJK Rosenheim Pro Basketball Club in Germany.

Gonzalez said the opportunity came about after the Bobcats ended their 2006-07 campaign. He spoke with agent Ralph Menor, a New York native who he knew from his days at the Riverbank State Park basketball camp.

“I had talked with a couple agents,” Gonzalez said. “I got some calls saying that they [the BSN] were going to enter my name into the draft.”

Gonzalez is expected to leave school sometime before the end of the week.

“I really wanted to finish up and graduate next month but I have to take advantage of this,” Gonzalez said. “Who knows, maybe they’ll let me come back and finish sometime.”

While he may be finished in the classroom, Gonzalez is starting a new era on the hardwood. He’s already slated for a tryout with the 25-under national team. Gonzalez said he would like to eventually play overseas. Right now, however, he is looking forward to life in Puerto Rico.

“It’s not often you get to do what you love to do for money,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a good situation and it’s beautiful out there. I’m looking forward to it.”