Landon Goesling thought his college basketball career was going to end following two seasons at the Division II level. The former Garces and Bakersfield High School player was content with it all.
He had already walked on and earned a scholarship at a Division I school only to miss the next season with a knee injury and realize he wanted to be closer to his family. Not willing to sit out another season, Goesling was satisfied with moving to D-II and playing out his last two years.
Three years later, though, he’s finally realizing a childhood basketball dream. Goesling joined D-I Houston as a graduate transfer this season and is in the middle of an NCAA Tournament run. The No. 3 Cougars (33-3) will face No. 2 Kentucky (29-6) in the Sweet 16 at 6:57 p.m. on Friday in Kansas City, Missouri.
Goesling has played in 17 games with Houston and made one start. He’s averaged 2.8 points in 6.3 minutes per game, and he got in for the Cougars’ first-round blowout of No. 14 Georgia State.
“It’s been really indescribable from the journey I’ve been on,” Goesling said. “... Just to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament, to win a conference championship, I really can’t even put it into words how crazy this ride has been.”
Goesling played his first high school season at Garces and his sophomore year at Bakersfield High before his mother got a job transfer around his 17th birthday. The family moved near Dallas and Goesling completed his high school career at Coppell (Texas) High School. Goesling’s entire extended family still lives in Bakersfield and he comes back to California each Christmas, he said.
He didn’t have any offers coming out of high school but was still set on playing D-I. While playing AAU ball, Goesling met the coaches from Appalachian State and decided to walk-on there. His status as a walk-on only lasted for one semester though as he played in all 29 games as a freshman and earned a scholarship his second semester at the school.
Three games into his sophomore year, Goesling tore the meniscus in his left knee, ending his season. He later decided that living in the mountains in North Carolina wasn’t for him and he wanted to transfer. Because he just used his redshirt year and he wasn’t willing to sit out another season because of NCAA D-I transfer rules, Goesling “didn’t have a choice” but to move to D-II.
Goesling headed to St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas. He played behind two seniors his first year on campus. Then came the opportunity he was looking for. Goesling led the team with 22.9 points per game, including 22 20-point performances and a season-high of 35.
That season and earning his undergraduate degree at St. Edward’s, gave Goesling the chance to transfer to Houston for his final year of eligibility.
At Houston, Goesling won the American Athletic Conference regular season championship, scored his 1,000th career point and made his first NCAA Tournament. When he hit a floater against Connecticut in the AAC Tournament to give him 1,001 career points, Goesling’s coaches and teammates celebrated more than he did, he said.
Because he’s the oldest player on the team, Goesling considers himself a leader and someone younger players look to for advice. He’s focused on helping the key players improve in practice and being ready when his name is called.
Out of all five, this has been the most exciting year of Goesling’s college basketball career.
“This has been a pretty magical ride and something I know I will never forget,” Goesling said. “Definitely my favorite memory of my college career, which is a pretty fitting ending to my five years.”