WILMINGTON, North Carolina - When wide-eyed freshman John Goldsberry drained an NCAA Tournament-record eight 3-pointers against Maryland in March of 2003, most Seahawk men's basketball faithful hoped it wouldn't be the defining moment of the scrappy freshman point guard's career.
The Vandalia, Ohio, playmaker went on to spark the Seahawks to another NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006 and a combined 83-40 record during his four seasons wearing the Teal and Blue. Today, his trademark floppy hairdo has given way to a close crop, and he's busy balancing life as a professional in Germany's top league with being a new father.
"I'm almost 30 now, but I feel pretty good," said Goldsberry, who led the CAA in the unofficial category of floor burns. The basketball was more valuable than a colored egg on Easter morning when hard-nosed Goldsberry lurked in the vicinity.
"I feel like I can get three or four more years out of my body. That's my goal anyway," Goldsberry said in his usual soft-spoken manner during a recent stopover in Wilmington.
Don't bet against the natural born leader. He's been a winner since his high school days at Vandalia High School in middle Ohio, where he learned the game from his father, Frank, and a house full of basketball nuts. His youngest sister, Ashley, played at Findlay College, while another sister, Lindsey, competed at Bowling Green. Younger brother, Robert, also enjoyed a solid career at Canisius. Oh, and by the way, Mom, Paula, was there, too, cheering them all on.
Goldsberry joined the Seahawk program in the early part of the decade and immediately paid dividends. The 6-3 performer powered the Seahawks to the CAA titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in both 2003 and 2006, leaving a legacy of hard work, on the court and in the classroom.
In 2006, his senior year, Goldsberry earned Second-Team All-CAA honors and was named to the All-Defensive and All-Academic teams. His greatest accomplishment, though, came at the CAA's postseason banquet when the conference bestowed the Dean Ehlers Award for Leadership on him for exhibiting the outstanding qualities of the former James Madison athletic director.
On the statistical side, Goldsberry started 114-of-121 games over four seasons, scoring 1,014 points with 405 rebounds and 530 assists. The assist total is an all-time high for the Seahawk program.
"I think I still possess some of the same traits," Goldsberry reflected. "When you get older, you can't dive on the floor and take charges like you used to. I still do it, but I don't get up as quickly."
Goldsberry must be doing something right. Since landing in Germany six years ago, he's played for three teams and his latest club, Bamberg BBL, has won the German League championship the last three years.
Playing overseas has allowed Goldsberry to enjoy the game he loves, travel extensively and experience a culture that, surprisingly, is crazy about hoops.
"Of all the places I've been, I'm partial to Germany," said Goldsberry, who favors the capital city of Munich. "I've been to 10 or 11 countries and Germany is a close to America as you're going to get over there. It's gotten easier each year for me. It's a different way of life with a slower pace. Life is more simple, and people are outside a lot more. "
Goldsberry's team in Bamberg, one of 18 clubs in the talented league, features five Americans, including former Stanford star Casey Jacobson, Texas standout P.J. Tucker and Dayton scorer Brian Roberts, and has enjoyed success in the German and Euro Leagues. Occasionally, Goldsberry has the opportunity to face Beckham Wyrick, T.J. Carter, Daniel Fountain and Todd Hendley - all former Seahawk stars.
"The leagues in the United States are more athletic, especially on the professional level," Goldsberry noted. "In Europe, they're more focused on fundamentals and skills. It's a little bit slower - you don't have to do everything at 100 mph. They understand the game really well and know how to play, though."
Injuries through the years have slowed Goldsberry down and he's chomping at the bit to return to the hardwood. He had knee surgery last August and an ankle operation in January, keeping him out of 2011-12 play. Always driven, Goldsberry used that time to start a family with his wife, UNCW graduate Lindsey Gleason, and the couple had a son, Jackson, on May 19, 2011.
"He's got a football build," Goldsberry smiled. "He's a hefty little guy."
The Goldsberrys recently purchased a condominium near Wrightsville Beach and plan to make the area their home when the rigors of the game finally take their last toll on his chiseled body. When that happens, it won't wipe away the memories of the years.
"I don't have a particular memory of UNCW, but it's more about the teammates, the coaches, the staff and everyone associated with the program. I still value all of those relationships and appreciate the messages and notes from everybody.
"My goal is to play more, but if that doesn't happen, we'll come back to the states. It would be hard not to do something with basketball. If not, I would be happy doing something else, maybe on the investment side of things.
"My game's changed a little bit, but I approach it the same way. I still play as hard as I can...and I do the little things to help my team win."
And winning, most people say, is something he does best.