Welcome to A10 Talk’s Preseason Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2018-19 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season, as voted on by our staff of writers. Today, we feature #23 Jacob Gilyard of Richmond.
What He’s Done
The Richmond Spiders had one of the more interesting seasons in 2017-18; after an abysmal start to non-conference play, Mooney and co. clawed back with some big wins in the A-10 and even gave the Bonnies a run for their money in the conference tournament. The Spiders had a dominant starting 5 that got better as the season went on, and Jacob Gilyard was at the helm. The Kansas City assumed the starting PG role in his first collegiate game and never looked back; he’d go on to average 11.4 points and 4.1 assists per game his freshman season. Even more impressive, his work on the defensive end of the floor led to 2.8 steals per game and a top 10 steal percentage nationally at 4.5%. Gilyard was simply a guy that did everything as a freshman yet had the poise of a senior. In addition to scoring, passing, and stealing, Gilyard rarely committed fouls, played more than 90% of available minutes all season, and shot 38.4% from deep. Gilyard was the jack of all trades for Richmond and is truly a point guard who can do anything.
Gilyard has a buzzer beater under his belt along with a career-high 23 points in Richmond’s win over James Madison last season. He also had a very crucial performance in a home win over VCU, scoring 18 points, dishing out 6 assists, and recording 5 steals. Richmond’s improvement throughout the course of last season can largely be contributed to the playmaking ability of Jacob Gilyard on both ends of the floor.
What He’ll Do
Despite Gilyard having played the 4th most available minutes of any A-10 player in conference play, there may be even more minutes for him as a sophomore, as the Spiders no longer have the assistance of Khwan Fore and De’Monte Buckingham. This means that Gilyard will have to be the floor general for the Spiders and look to get others open shots. Getting everyone involved will be important; the Spiders rarely looked to their bench last season due to a dominant starting 5, but outside of Gilyard, Golden, and Sherod, there is no sure starting 5. As the facilitator of the offense, Gilyard will have to get freshmen and rising sophomores some open looks as the Spiders will hope to surprise in the league this year. This is once again a very young team, and it’s not often that a guy like Gilyard has to assume so much responsibility in his second year. There is a lot of talk around Kellan Grady and Luwane Pipkins as dominant point guards in the A-10 this year, but Gilyard’s name should be in the conversation as well. You’d be hard-pressed to find a scrappier defender in the Atlantic 10, and he could really be a special player if he improves his scoring and passing in his second season as a Richmond Spider.
Previously: #24 Carl Pierre