What are the odds that identical twins thrive in basketball and music, with a chance to become professional in both? Meet, Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez, two ladies who were on top of the world. These two possess a great deal of talent and an extremely high work ethic that helped them get close to becoming global stars. Sadly, one establishment got in the way of their dreams of becoming pro basketball stars. The unfortunate situation also helped to shed light on a more severe issue affecting many in America…
An Athletic Family
Born in Kansas, Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez grew up in Idaho. It was no surprise when their athleticism started to show itself. Their mother, Angie, was an All-American basketball star at Kansas during the ’80s before going pro in Germany.
Wanting to follow in their mother’s footsteps, the twins became elite talents for Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho. That would only be the start of their athletic journey and compelling life, filled with twists…
Time To Make A Decision
Dylan and Dakota were so sensational in high school; many thought that they were probably the best two players at that level in the state of Idaho. With a mom who knew the ropes, they had someone close to them to teach them the game properly.
The time eventually came for them to select which college they would take their talents to, and they chose to stick together. Their decision made their mother a proud parent.
Kansas University Was The Choice!
“There are no words to describe how excited I am that I get to go with my best friend to Kansas,” Dakota added. “To play in the Big 12, in such a competitive conference and knowing I have the support in my sister and the recruits coming in is just great. I am very excited.”
The University of Kansas was their mother’s alma mater, and they chose it over the likes of Gonzaga, Auburn, Stanford, and other top-tier universities. Some thought they would split ways, but the twins wanted to keep close.
Gaining More Attention
Successful identical twins usually attract tons of attention. When you throw in the fact that these two are athletes and they both don’t mind being on covers of magazines, that recognition increases dramatically.
These two became celebrities on campus. As their notoriety increased, so did their social following, gaining 500k each their freshman year. As they became famous off the court, their skills on the hardwood would drop as a direct effect. Would this be the case long term?
Their Game Wasn’t There
While the two might’ve dominated in high school, things differed once they stepped on that college hardwood floor in Kansas. Neither of them produced the stats that many thought they could put up.
Dakota would end up only starting four games throughout the season while averaging 4.4 points. Dylan fared much worse with an average of 1.1 points per contest. Was the sudden popularity they received too much for them or had they not adjusted yet to the speed of the college game?
Needed A Change Of Pace
After getting off to a poor start and trying to make things work, the twins knew it was time to switch gears. The two weren’t happy in Kansas and wanted to go somewhere closer to home in Idaho.
They pondered over the situation for some time before settling on where they would go. Finally, they elected to enroll at UNLV. Because of their massive following on social media, the twins received tons of backlash for taking their talents elsewhere.
Dealing With The Scrutiny
When you put together their accounts, the Gonzalez twins had over a million followers on Instagram. Jaded Kansas fans grew upset with them, and so did others for leaving a much larger school for a smaller one.
Dylan addressed the issue, saying, “We definitely expected some backlash. It’s definitely tough because people don’t really know what goes on behind the curtain, so they just make these assumptions and throw things out there that nine times out of 10 are not true.” They had to sit for a year before getting to play, but they got into a comfortable groove.
Finding Their Strides
Deciding to play for UNLV turned out to be a great decision as each of them stepped into their own. Dylan was first off the bench and led the second unit in scoring.
As for Dakota, she was the overall leading scorer for the Rebels at 13.8 points per game. She even was an Honorable Mention All-Mountain West selection! Basketball was something they loved doing, but it was another form of entertainment that drew them to the bright lights of Las Vegas, music.
Drake Makes An Appearance
Rapper, singer, actor, and all-around entertainer, Drake, has a knack for showing up to support women unexpectedly. He showcases his love for basketball whenever he gets the chance, so it comes as no surprise that tabloids would catch him at one of the twins’ games.
The most notable occasion was when he went to a Pepperdine University to watch them play UNLV. According to reports, he’d been to multiple games in Vegas and even played 2-on-2 with the sisters.
Call Them “IIGonz”
The Gonzalez twins adopted the stage name of IIGonz. As individuals, Dakota became Kota, and Dylan chose Dyl. The sisters, now known as IIGonz, would release numerous songs on SoundCloud to get things started, including the EP, Take 1.
This EP has over 200,000 plays as of 2020 on the streaming platform SoundCloud. Many thought they were only flexing their creative prowess, but not everyone felt the same, and it ultimately led to the end of their basketball careers…
The NCAA Intervenes
With all the attention surrounding the twins and the Drake connection, it wasn’t long before IIGonz went viral. This put Dakota and Dylan under a microscope that would end up becoming detrimental.
That’s when the NCAA stepped in and shook things up. Once they found out about their music careers, the NCAA let the sisters know it could impact their eligibility as athletes. That’s not something anyone wants to hear if they’re only exploring their many talents.
What Were There Goals?
Since the NCAA tends to want as much control over athletes as possible, they promptly asked the sisters about their music endeavors. Many would think that it shouldn’t matter, but Dylan offered a perspective on it in an interview with SLAM Magazine.
“We definitely tried to challenge the system a little bit to make both music and basketball work. At the end of the day, the only thing they would allow us to do was sing the national anthem at a game and make music in our home,” she said. Dylan ended it by saying, “you almost start to feel a little threatened.”
Time To Hang Up The Jerseys
Dakota and Dylan had one year of eligibility left to play for UNLV before all the heat landed on them. Sadly, put in an awful position, they had to quit the game they loved.
Due to the NCAA only allowing IIGonz to sing the National Anthem, they felt their newfound fame would go to waste if they couldn’t capitalize on it. Music was now the path they decided to trek down, hoping it would bear much fruit.
A Grand Social Announcement
After finalizing their decision, Dylan and Dakota made a lengthy announcement via Instagram. They paired with pictures of some of their most cherished memories with a few choice words directed towards the NCAA.
“We worked our [expletive] off to get to where we are,” Dylan added. “But because of the NCAA and the ancient set of rules that has yet to evolve with the rest of time, our hand has been forced to make the tough choice to go on and build a foundation to pursue our musical careers outside of basketball.”
Hopes Of The WNBA?
After giving up their final year of eligibility, the twins didn’t want to give up their hoop dreams completely. Music was something they could always do whenever they had the time, but their skills and conditioning were harder to keep up.
Word started to get around that the two would potentially try out for a few WNBA teams! Of course, there was some thought of them going overseas like their mother did, but those plans never panned out.
Sharpening Their Music Craft
With basketball in the back of their minds, music was what the twins focused on at the moment. Their EP, Take 1, received tons of attention, and they would release a few more songs they worked on completing.
The goal was to find an engineer and promote their songs on all social platforms. After choosing music over basketball, making things work in that lane would be ideal, but as you’ve learned, things don’t always go according to plan.
Was Basketball Over With?
About a year’s worth of time passed by, and all the limelight the twins received seemingly went out the window. Plenty wondered if they gave up on their basketball dreams completely.
Dylan and Dakota still pushed their music, so that wasn’t an issue, but the tunes weren’t what brought them hype. One day, they surprised everyone with a monumental announcement. No one could have ever predicted what they heard next from these musically and athletically gifted sisters…
Aiming For The Las Vegas Aces
The twins finally admitted that their hopes of one day playing in the WNBA never faded. That their goals included playing for the city they lived in at the time, Las Vegas, home of the Las Vegas Aces.
Former NBA star Bill Laimbeer coaches that team, making it even more enticing for Dylan and Dakota. More importantly, the sisters wanted to serve as an inspiration to young children all over the nation if they could.
Trying To Beat Out The Competition
Dakota and Dylan kept up their physical training so they could stay in shape. They worked extremely hard to keep their conditioning intact so they could make a WNBA roster in 2019.
When the final roster released for the Aces, the list featured some highly talented players like Liz Cambage, Kelsey Plum, and Epiphany Prince. When the season came around, the twins were nowhere in sight. What could’ve happened to them this time?
A New Chapter Unfolds
Sadly, the pursuit of playing professionally came to an end, but that didn’t rule out future endeavors presented to the twins. They still possessed plenty of potential and upside, and with over one million followers on Instagram each, the opportunities came knocking.
They can thank the popularity they received from playing college ball as the reason they continued to gain notoriety long after getting forced to call it quits at UNLV. What did the twins have up their sleeves next?
Becoming Social Media Influencers
The twins decided to utilize the massive following they each had and become social media influencers on Instagram. While many look down on it, it’s a reasonably lucrative gig, especially if you know what you’re doing!
They started by posting a few modeling pictures with big-name photographers and those trying to make a name for themselves. Dylan and Dakota consistently keep their content updated and know how to attract eyes to their brand with relative ease.
A Sneaky Rebranding Of Their Name
Late in 2019, the Gonzalez twins decided to kick IIGonz to the curb and go with a new name. In a rebranding strategy, their new stage name became D.a.D., and they launched a new Instagram to help raise awareness.
As they continue to increase the following of their account, new music will soon follow. They’ve posted many cryptic posts that point towards the release of a new EP or album. It can even be a single for all we know.
The Launch Of An App
To help with raising brand awareness, the twins launched an app in 2019 under the platform escapex. According to them, the app will help showcase their music, fitness content, and overall lifestyle.
They even made it more worthwhile for those who have it by potentially offering giveaways (an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas is on the docket). That’s sure to bring forth more interest in what they have to offer to those who are on the cusp.
A Story Still Going Strong
While the story of the Gonzalez twins is nowhere near finished, all that they’ve accomplished and gone through so far should inspire. Despite getting taken away from the game they love by an organization, some call shady; they didn’t let that stop them.
Dakota and Dylan helped bring attention to where it matters. They helped the paradigm shift of allowing college athletes to make a living for themselves while playing at the collegiate level, and not only as a professional.