Taking it to the top of the key: Gokul Natesan

Throughout his high school basketball career, senior Gokul Natesan developed from a player with sweaty palms and shaky knees during tip-off to a confident leader with a tremendous love for the game. Before Natesan made a name for himself in basketball, many people saw him as a scrawny player lacking physical and mental strength, unfit to compete against great players and handle himself during tough situations on the court. Despite making the varsity basketball team since freshman year, he had to prove to everyone that he belonged on the court.

Since freshman year, Natesan has gained 30 pounds and has grown around four inches in height. However, Natesan’s physical attributes do not compare to his mental and statistical growth. Natesan’s disciplined work ethics brought him from 5.2 points average per game his freshman year to a career high of 23.3 points per game his junior year. Natesan is currently ranked 15th in the nation for average three-pointers per game and third in the Central Coast Section (CCS) for average points per game.

Natesan is the team captain but also values the involvement of each player in order to create a better team.

“We want it so that everyone steps up because this makes us better as a team. But in pressured situations or situations that don’t go as planned, Mr. Ellegood expects me to take charge and try my best to make something happen,” Natesan said.

Natesan feeds off the competition from other great players as well as from the excitement of the crowd to push him to perform his best. The suspense of a pressured situation also encourages Natesan to play harder, motivating him to make the best out of each game.

“The feeling of being out there in a big game is just surreal,” Natesan said.

In the midst of all the peculiar aspects that add to the “feel” of the basketball game, Natesan highly values the brotherhood of the team as well as the consistency of PE teacher Craig Ellegood’s coaching. From the team dinners once a week before a game to the laughs that he shares with his teammates both inside and outside of the gym, Natesan is able to use this bond to raise the trust and chemistry between him and his teammates during the game. Despite creating a serious atmosphere during practice with rigorous drills and scrimmaging, Ellegood is very well respected by Natesan and the rest of team.

“I like the fact that he comes out every day, ready to work,” Natesan said. “Whether it is in the spring or the fall, he is there to help you get better and to help you improve on a certain spot that you are lacking. He has no off-day and every day is a day to help you become a better player in every aspect of basketball. He never takes a day off.”

Apart from his high school basketball career, Natesan is also a member of an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) club baksetball team called the San Jose Ballers and allocates some time to working with coaches of that team. Before the season started, Natesan met up separately with specialized coaches to fine-tune different parts of his game. In addition to working out in the weight room with one coach to get stronger, Natesan also practiced shooting around 600 shots with another coach, twice a week, to become an even better player.

Natesan hopes to continue playing basketball in college, as he already has some scouts on his tail. From all of the experience that he has accumulated in four years of varsity basketball, Natesan hopes to deliver to the younger players an important message.

“The overall rating of a team is not just the sum of its individual parts. It’s so much more than that. You don’t always need to have the most talent to win.”

Sunwoo Jeong, Sports Editor

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