The Collegian
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Three Richmond men's basketball players declare for the 2020 NBA Draft

<p>Redshirt junior guard Blake Francis looks to make a pass during the Feb. 29 game against University of Massachusetts Amherst. <em>Photo courtesy of the Spider Athletics Instagram page</em></p>

Redshirt junior guard Blake Francis looks to make a pass during the Feb. 29 game against University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photo courtesy of the Spider Athletics Instagram page

Richmond men’s basketball guards Jacob Gilyard and Blake Francis and forward Grant Golden, all juniors, declared for the 2020 NBA draft yesterday via posts on their Instagram accounts. 

Leading the nation in steals this year, Gilyard has proven to the Atlantic 10 and the U.S. that he is an elite defender. The point guard has been a starter for the Spiders since his freshman year. He currently holds the UR record for most steals in a season with 89, and he is 111 steals away from being the NCAA’s all-time leader in steals. 

The Missouri native was a semifinalist for the 2019-20 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-Atlantic 10 and two time A-10 All-defense team. He averaged 13.4 points, 5.0 assists and 2.9 steals in his four years at UR.

Junior guard Jacob Gilyard during Wednesday's loss to rival VCU at the Siegel Center. The game took place on Feb. 13, 2019. 

“First, I want to thank God for all he has done for me and is continuing to do," Gilyard wrote in his Instagram post. "I also want to thank my family, friends, coaches & spider fans for everything. After talking to Coach Mooney, I have decided to enter the 2020 NBA draft. I will maintain my eligibility throughout the process. Thank you for all your support!”

Francis, who transferred from Wagner College after his sophomore year, is a dominant scorer for the Spiders, having led the team with an average 17.7 points per game this season, despite missing around eight weeks due to injury. Francis scored his 1000th career point this season after making a free throw against St. Joseph's University. The Herndon, Virginia, native also averaged 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists and was selected for the All-Atlantic 10 second team. 

“Spider Nation- I wanted to thank everyone for all the support during my first year playing at Richmond," Francis wrote in his post. "I will be entering my name in the 2020 NBA draft while maintaining my eligibility."

After being granted a medical redshirt his freshman year because of a cardiac ablation procedure to correct an accelerated heart rate, Golden has been a pivotal part of the Spiders basketball team. As a starter for three years, Golden averaged 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in four years at UR. The Winchester, Virginia, native's accolades include being selected to the All-Atlantic 10 rookie team, the All-Atlantic 10 third team twice and the All-Atlantic 10 second team.

Redshirt Junior forward Grant Golden jumps over George Mason defense to take a shot. 

“From the bottom of my heart I want to thank my family, coaches, trainers, great friends, and all of Spider Nation for helping me get to where I am today," Golden wrote in his post. "After much consideration, I have decided to enter the 2020 NBA draft. I intend to maintain my eligibility through the process. Thank you again for all the love & support!”

Per NCAA rules, the trio has up until 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine, an event held by the NBA which allows potential draft picks to showcase their skills directly in front of teams, to decide whether they will fully enter the NBA draft and forego their NCAA eligibility. The combine is typically held in late May, but with the season suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the combine will most likely take place at a later date. The athletes may hire an agent from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, but if they decide to come back to school, they must terminate all agreements with that agent. 

Francis, Gilyard and Golden would be among the five returning starters the Spiders planned to have next season. They would also be three of the four starters on the team to have scored over 1,000 points in their career. If the three decide to come back to UR for their final season, the team will be one of the only in the country — if not the only — to have four of their five returning starters be 1,000-point scorers.

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Contact sports editor Krystian Hajduczka at krystian.hajduczka@richmond.edu.

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