Big things can come in small packages. This is definitely the case when you see Mesquite High School's talented and hard-working junior guard Cohenj Gonzales perform. Standing at a mere 5-foot-8 in height, Gonzales gets everything out of his smaller size and is one of the state's best overall guard performers and prospects for college coaches to take a very hard look at. Gonzales is a walking bucket as a player and is also one of the state's toughest overall players in the state. Coming from an amazing basketball family, this young man is definitely one to watch in Arizona's 2023 Class, and set to have a terrific junior season for Head Coach Shawn Lynch.
Gonzales has become one of the our staff's favorite players and prospects over the past two seasons. After watching him develop over the past two years, and then following his play this past spring and summer, I have been very impressed with his play and development as a player. He has become one of my favorite prospects to watch perform, and our staff absolute loves him. Through my consistent evaluations of him as a player, I am assured that this young man will make a college program absolutely proud at the next level. After speaking with his family, I am sure of it.
I caught up with his father Josh Gonzales, who was a terrific player himself in his day. His father played at Phoenix College on a loaded ball club in the early 1990's, before going on to play for a terrific team at Grand Canyon University, which included Mexican-born basketball star Horacio LLamas (Phoenix Suns). Josh went on to play professionally, while his wife also was a standout performer for the women's basketball team as well. Josh advised me that he has raised his family to play at the highest level of sports, and he has invested countless hours and money into the training of his children. He advised me that Cohenj is an absolute gym rat and works tirelessly on his game and body daily.
"Cohenj put up 700 shots today before the game," stated Josh Gonzales. "He is always working."
When you watch Cohenj play, it is obvious, as this young man plays with inspired effort throughout every game I have watched him compete in, and never stops running. He competes at a very high level all game, and plays much bigger than his smaller size suggests. His smaller frame does not matter, and he is among the state's best shooters and scorers of the basketball - able to break down defenders at any time in the offense, and always a threat defensively, as he possesses a very strong physical compact frame. While he is only 5-8 in height, he is able to play both guard positions on the floor, as needed. He is a floor general with the basketball in his hands and makes plays for himself and others, almost at will. His quickness is very difficult to match, but his intensity on the floor is what makes him so unique. He competes hard, regardless of what other players throw at him. He is an absolute dog on both ends of the floor, and, as a result, he will have a very bright future in the sport and in anything he decides to do in life.
After following and watching Cohenj perform this summer in the backcourt with his longtime friend and club teammate, Campo Verde High School's gifted junior guard Isaiah Kai on their Team Arizona club program, I was very delighted to watch their team play against top competition, as they finished with a 9-3 record in July, without much size on their team, and against some stiff 17U elite competition at Pangos and Hoop Circuit events. This team competed at a very high level and raised their individual recruitment as a result.
This high school season, Cohenj will have a big junior year for Mesquite HS longtime highly successful Head Coach Shawn Lynch, as he teams up again with one of the state's elite overall talents in the backcourt again - 6-foot-3 senior guard Nate Calmese. Calmese and Cohenj make up one of the state's elite backcourts and are a very difficult guard combination for team's to defend. This exciting duo will be a handful all season, and will be a favorite to go very deep into the 4A State Playoffs, and has an amazing opportunity to finish in the Final Four and even further this season.
Cohenj is still growing a great deal and could see one last major growth spurt. His older brother and sister both grew a great deal in the senior seasons, so he still has time. His older brother grew from 5-8 as a junior to 6-2 in his senior season. If this same result happens for Cohenj, watch out. If he grows to even 6-0 in height, he will be even more of a handful for opposing guards, as he is already dunking the basketball now at 5-8. He gets the absolute most of his abilities, and more height for him will only make him much more attractive for college programs.
Currently, many college programs have been impressed with this young man's abilities and are paying close attention to him. I expect him to see his college recruitment really take off this season, while he helps to lead the very talented and high-powered backcourt of him and Calmese. While Calmese should see his recruiting stock soar this season, so will Cohenj, as college coaches see this young man compete.
I have become a complete fan of this young man, on and off the court. He is an excellent example for younger players today, that it does not matter what size you are, but rather the size of your heart and determination. Work hard and good things will happen. No one works harder than Cohenj, and it shows in his play and preparation.
I will continue to watch and follow Cohenj closely this high school season, as I simply enjoy watching this young man compete, and will bring you any recruiting updates on him as they begin to develop over time.