Former University of Richmond men's basketball players Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden have signed Exhibit-10 contracts with NBA teams.
Gilyard signed with the Memphis Grizzlies on Sept. 23 and Golden signed with the Denver Nuggets on Sept. 26.
By signing Exhibit-10 contracts, Gilyard and Golden became members of their respective teams' rosters for training camp and will now play in the NBA preseason. After preseason, if waived from the roster, they will play for the franchise's developmental G-League affiliate in November. However, if any roster spots become available throughout the season, they will then have an opportunity to move up and play in the NBA.
A former five-year guard for the Spiders, Gilyard not only sits first all-time on the NCAA steals list with 466 steals but he also holds UR's record for assists (782), three-pointers (332) and is UR's fifth all-time leading scorer with 2,039 points.
Gilyard did not respond to The Collegian's request for comment.
UR head coach Chris Mooney said Gilyard was an incredibly intelligent player and that he probably had the best instincts of anyone he had ever coached.
“The heads up plays that he makes are just endless,” Mooney said. “I think that he'll really have a potential to make a major impact.”
A former six-year forward for the Spiders, Golden sits second on UR's all-time scoring list with 2,246 points, sits third on UR's all-time rebounding list with 1,015 rebounds and has four All-Atlantic 10 selections. He is the only player in UR history to score 2,000 points and record 1,000 rebounds.
Golden said he was thankful and excited for the opportunity.
"There's such a small percentage of people that are able to even have this opportunity to come to training camp and have an opportunity to be at this level," Golden said. "So, the fact that I'm even lucky enough to be here, there's obviously a lot that's gone with it, and a lot of people that have helped me out along the way. And the fact that sort of everything came to fruition, and I'm able to be here at this point right now is just super surreal."
Mooney said Golden was an exceptional person and a tremendous player for UR. He also said it was rare to have a player of Golden's size have so many untouchable qualities.
"He's a guy who really cares about the team," Mooney said. "He's a guy who really cares about winning. He can do things that get statistical that helps statistically like score and rebound and pass, but he also does a ton of other things in terms of his work ethic, his ability to befriend teammates and mentor younger guys.”
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Gilyard and Golden both played in the NBA Summer League in July — Gilyard with the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden with the Atlanta Hawks.
In his case, Golden said early on in the summer, the Nuggets contacted him about signing an Exhibit-10 contract, but he did not think much of it, as he was focused on the Summer League. He had decided to play overseas, he said.
“There were some teams in France and Italy that I was strongly considering, and I sort of had come to terms with doing that,” Golden said. “And [the Nuggets] came back around and said that they really liked my skill set and what I felt like I could develop into.”
Golden said he probably would not have stayed with any other team, but because of the Nuggets' style of play, he could see himself potentially thriving with the organization.
A former teammate of Gilyard and Golden's, UR fifth-year senior Matt Grace, said he was proud of them.
In the case of Gilyard, as someone who played with him for four years, Grace said he couldn't be happier for him after seeing how hard he works.
“They're getting a guy who's insanely quick, just really understands the game, knows how to get steals and make an impact on any game," Grace said.
As for Golden, Grace similarly said as someone who had to go up against him every day, he couldn't be happier having seen all that Golden has put in to get this far. He also said Golden would be perfect in mimicking reigning NBA MVP, Nikola Jokić.
Golden said having played on an offense that valued big men at UR helped him develop into the player he is today. He also gave credit to Mooney and the coaching staff at UR, noting how they prepared him for life outside of basketball.
"They try and teach these lessons through basketball and sticking with a schedule and being consistent every day," Golden said. "And all the different things that they taught us throughout our time there at Richmond for both basketball and off-the-court stuff, it just really stuck with me, and I think that's a huge reason why I've been able to get to this point and will always be super thankful for them and everything that they taught me."
Golden also said he and Gilyard have been in touch and talk pretty much every day.
“I think he's in a spot in Memphis where I think his skill set and what he brings to the table is where he will really be able to thrive over there," Golden said.
This year, the pair will play on different teams for the first time since 2017. This past season at UR, they helped lead the Spiders to their first Atlantic 10 Championship and first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2011.
Two former Spiders currently play in the G-League. ShawnDre’ Jones, ‘17, plays for the Motor City Cruise in Detroit, Michigan, and Blake Francis, ‘21, plays for the Capital City Go-Go in Washington D.C. Gilyard and Golden will raise the total to four this year.
Gilyard’s preseason with the Grizzlies began Oct. 1 and will run through Oct. 13, and Golden's preseason with the Nuggets started Oct. 3 and will run through Oct. 14. Unless called up to their respective NBA squads, Gilyard will begin the season with the Memphis Hustle in Southaven, Mississippi, and Golden with the Grand Rapids Gold in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Contact sports writer Jimmy James at email@example.com.
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