2020 has not been a year short of emotions for Georgia Tech point guard Jose Alvarado.
The Yellow Jackets finished the 2019-20 college basketball season fifth in the ACC - the program's highest league finish since 2005. That milestone, however, was tainted when Tech dropped its appeal of the NCAA's one-year postseason ban with less than a week left in the regular season - forbidding the Jackets to participate in the 2020 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament or any other championship event.
Although Tech didn't travel to the ACC Tournament in Greensboro (N.C.), the team watched the college basketball postseason crumble with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. League basketball tournaments were cancelled, and March Madness never happened.
With concerns evolving around the coronavirus, much of the nation shut down in the spring. For Alvarado, it meant he had to get creative in preparation of the upcoming college basketball season.
"It was definitely difficult because I started going back to my old roots," Alvarado said of his offseason training. "I literally got a basketball hoop from Walmart, put it in my backyard, and literally shot in my backyard. It might not have been the best hoop, but it was something... When this pandemic first hit it was bad. I honestly couldn't get in a gym. I've got a family at home that I can't risk going to certain people... I just want to be extra careful because of my little daughter."
Alvarado said that his daughter Nazanin (Persian for “sweetheart”), who is now six months old, has changed the way he looks at life.
"It's definitely a blessing," Alvarado said of fatherhood. "I can't tell you how it feels because there's no words. It feels good, waking up knowing that's your little daughter you've got to take care of for the rest of your life."
Although the 2020-21 college basketball season is slated to tip-off in less than 90 days, the college sports world currently has its eyes focused on what's going on with the upcoming fall sports season. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already decided to not play college football this year - aiming for a delayed 2021 spring start. On top of the cancelled seasons within the Power Five, several major college football players from numerous programs have opted of the 2020 season due to coronavirus safety concerns.
With his daughter always at the forefront of his mind, Alvarado expressed his need to remain healthy and safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. As cases rise around the country and doctors still learn of the effects of the virus on infants, many wouldn't fault Alvarado should he decide to not play his senior season at Tech.
"I would lie to you if I said I didn't," Alvarado said when asked if he considered opting out this upcoming season. "It was never a 'I'm going to do it.' It never came down to that because I'm living my life to support them [his family] later on in life. It's going to come down to me playing. I stuck it out and my family stood by me."
Though busting out an air guitar after sinking a three is Alvarado's recognized move, he said Jackets fans should be prepared to see a new type of player this year.
"Y'all are going to see a different Jose," Alvarado said. "It might not be in the way of going out there and scoring a lot of points. It's definitely going to be a way of just leading my team and picking our guys up in a different way. I've just got a different mindset. I've got a daughter to look after and I've got my guys to help me out. I'm just an older player."
One thing guaranteed by Alvarado, should fans be allowed in McCamish Pavilion, Nazanin will be a familiar face in the stands.
"If we can have fans come to the game, you're going to see her [Nazanin] everyday," said Alvarado.
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