On April 8, former University of Richmond men’s basketball player Jacob Gilyard, ‘22, signed a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA.
Though not on the active roster, Gilyard will be with the team for the NBA playoffs, which began for the Grizzlies April 16 with a loss against the Los Angeles Lakers in game one of the Western Conference first round.
“It was surreal, honestly,” Gilyard said back on April 10 in an interview on Bob Black’s ESPN radio show, The Sports Huddle. “It’s kind of hard to put in words. And it happened so fast…It was really crazy. It was a lot of going through all different kinds of emotions and then to actually hear from my agent that it was happening, it was a dream come true.”
UR’s men’s basketball team’s Twitter account reposted the news on social media, writing “Congratulations Jacob! #ProSpiders #OneRichmond.”
Grant Golden, Gilyard’s former UR teammate who played this past season for the Denver Nuggets’ G-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, also reposted the news on his Twitter account and showed his support for Gilyard.
“More than deserving,” Golden tweeted, with a heart next to the post.
Gilyard originally signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Grizzlies back on Sept. 23 which allowed him to spend training camp with the team.
From there, Gilyard spent the season with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G-League affiliate. While playing for the Hustle, Gilyard led the G-League in assists per game with 9.7 and broke the Hustle’s franchise records for assists and steals in a season.
Gilyard was the 55th player to be called up to the NBA from the G-League this season. In 31 games played, Gilyard averaged 8.3 points per game and 1.9 steals per game.
Before the NBA playoffs commenced, Gilyard got his first career NBA minutes in the Grizzlies’ final regular season game against the Oklahoma City Thunder April 9. Gilyard played 40 minutes off the bench, scored three points, grabbed four rebounds and chipped in seven assists.
“I haven’t really taken a second to kind of digest or sit back and look and see what really happened, like that I actually played in an NBA game,” Gilyard said on the show. “I’m kind of just focused on trying to get in another one and move on from here.”
Gilyard is the fourth UR alumnus to play in the NBA. The other three are John Schweitz, ‘82, who played in the league for four years, Johnny Newman, ‘86, who played for 16 years and most recently Justin Harper, ‘11, who played for three years.
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“I always felt like I was a really good player, one of the better players to come through Richmond, but I think this kind of further solidifies that,” Gilyard said.
Gilyard sits fifth on UR’s all-time scoring list with 2,039 points, leads the school in all-time assists with 782, 3-pointers with 332 and steals with 466. Gilyard set the NCAA Division I record for all-time steals on Dec. 5, 2022.
In his fifth and final season at UR, Gilyard helped the Spiders make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2011. This came after an Atlantic 10 Championship victory over Davidson College.
In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Gilyard paced the Spiders with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists which led UR to a win over the fifth-seeded University of Iowa.
Though he will not see the floor, Gilyard will continue to travel with the Grizzlies, he said, who are currently down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series against the Lakers. Game five of the series will take place at the FedExForum in Memphis, TN at 7:30 p.m. April 26.
Contact sports editor Jimmy James at email@example.com.
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