COLUMBIA, SC (WWBT) - The NCAA Tournament puts a wide range of emotions on display- the thrill of an upset, and the agony of careers ending. It’s been quite a ride for VCU senior Michael Gilmore and on Friday night he will hope to extend his time in the black and gold.
Gilmore is making his third appearance in the big dance. He was part of VCU’s Atlantic 10 Championship team in 2015, then put together one of his biggest career games against Oklahoma in the 2016 field of 68. Now a graduate student and a redshirt senior, Gilmore has experience from which to draw.
“The first couple times coming in I never played, and then obviously the Oklahoma game was a great game,” Gilmore recalled. “Having that under my belt gives me a little bit more confidence.”
Gilmore transferred from VCU following the 2015-2016 season and eventually ended up at Florida Gulf-Coast. After his graduation, the forward opted to return to the Rams for his final year of eligibility. Yes, it’s his third NCAA Tournament, but he’s also part of March Madness with his third different head coach at VCU.
“The reason I wanted Mike back here is I love the kid,” said Rams’ head coach Mike Rhoades. “He walks in the room, he lights it up, he’s just such a great kid, and he brings great energy, positive energy.”
“This being my last with my third coach, I think is one that I have to make the experience and make this last, so keep doing whatever I can to make sure that happens," Gilmore said.
Gilmore isn’t seeing the playing time he had hoped for when returning to VCU, but that hasn’t been an issue. His ability and maturity in adapting to the circumstances and his leadership are reasons why the Rams are putting together a successful campaign.
“It hasn’t been a lot of the things that I’ve been able to do on the court as much as I wanted to,” the senior forward admitted. “But that’s fine because I’ve been doing a lot of things behind the scenes just leading them, just talking to them, advice, whatever it may be. I think that was my biggest role this year was just trying to be that older, leader figure for this group.”
“He’s honestly the glue guy of the team. He holds everybody together in the locker room,” added sophomore guard Sean Mobley. “Just keep this thing alive and hope we can get him a couple more games.”
Gilmore and VCU tip off against Central Florida on Friday at approximately 9:40pm.
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