The Collegian
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

From the Robins Center to the Grizzlies’ starting five: Gilyard makes first NBA start

<p>Photo of Jacob Gilyard, ‘22 playing for University of Richmond. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics.&nbsp;</p>

Photo of Jacob Gilyard, ‘22 playing for University of Richmond. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics. 

Former University of Richmond men’s basketball player, Jacob Gilyard, ‘22, made his first career start for the Memphis Grizzlies in the team’s game against the Utah Jazz Nov. 10.  

Despite the Grizzlies’ loss, Gilyard played 34 minutes and scored 14 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. Gilyard also grabbed 5 rebounds and picked up 8 assists over the course of his time on the hardwood. 

“That’s NBA starter Jacob Gilyard to you,” UR men’s basketball posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, responding to a Grizzlies tweet before the team’s matchup against the Jazz. 

After making a splash during the NBA Preseason, totaling 17 points over five games and racking up 10 assists in one game alone, Gilyard began the season with the Grizzlies. And now, nine games into the regular season, the two-way player has gotten significant playing time with the team.

In addition to the start Nov. 10, Gilyard played 14 minutes when the Grizzlies took on the Miami Heat Nov. 8. He scored 6 points, all from the 3-point line, and had 4 assists. 

Gilyard’s play also made for an electrifying highlight in the Grizzlies’ Nov. 5 matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers, as he connected with teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. for a layup on a pass that went in between a Trail Blazer defender’s legs during the team’s 112-100 win. 

Gilyard responded to a question in the press conference following the Grizzlies’ loss to the Jazz regarding his teammates encouraging Gilyard to shoot the ball. He said Jackson and other teammates, Derrick Rose, Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, on separate instances got on Gilyard for passing up shots and told him he needed to “look to score.”

“For me it’s just, when you have those four guys confident in you scoring and shooting the ball, it makes it pretty easy,” Gilyard said in the postgame press conference Nov. 10. “Obviously with the start, but even last game, I just came out looking to be more aggressive and help these guys out.”

Gilyard is the most recent Spider alumnus to start in an NBA game. The last was Johnny Newman, ‘86, who started 512 games over his 16-year professional career. Newman played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks throughout his time in the NBA. 

“It’s a testament to [Gilyard’s] work and who he is,” Bane said in the Nov. 10 press conference, speaking about Gilyard starting the game. “He’s stayed with the process, right attitude regardless what situation he was in, and that stuff goes a long way.” 

In 2022, Gilyard helped lead UR to its first Atlantic 10 Championship since 2011 and played a large role in the Spiders advancing to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Against the University of Iowa in the Round of 64, Gilyard led the Spiders with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. 

Gilyard sits first on UR’s all-time steals, assists and 3-pointers lists, totaling 466 steals, 782 assists and 332 3-pointers in his time with the Spiders. He also scored over 2,000 points at UR and even broke the NCAA’s all-time Division I steals record Dec. 5, 2022. 

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Whether or not Gilyard continues to play the same volume of minutes he’s alloted in the last few games, he’s made the most of his time in the NBA thus far. 

The Grizzlies’ next game is against the Los Angeles Clippers at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 12. 

Contact sports editor Jimmy James at jimmy.james@richmond.edu 

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