‘He’s carrying a lot on his shoulders’: Why Gideon George has been so valuable for BYU this season
George helped lead the Cougars to their comeback win over Dayton last weekend in The Bahamas
Senior Gideon George played a big role in BYU’s big comeback victory over Dayton last Friday in The Bahamas at The Battle 4 Atlantis.
“Gideon is certainly a leader on this team. There’s no doubt. He’s carrying a lot on his shoulders. He knew that coming back. He’s got some great people helping him but he’s carrying a load there.” — Mark Pope
The Cougars rallied from a 23-point first-half deficit and earned a 79-75 overtime win.
George scored a team-high 21 points, hit three 3-pointers, and grabbed six rebounds. He made a big free throw with 1:03 left in regulation to help send the game to OT.
BYU will be looking for more of those kind of performances from George this season.
“Gideon is certainly a leader on this team. There’s no doubt,” said coach Mark Pope. “He’s carrying a lot on his shoulders. He knew that coming back. He’s got some great people helping him but he’s carrying a load there.”
The Cougars face Westminster on Tuesday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv) at Vivint Arena.
During the offseason, George entered the transfer portal and then decided to remove his name. At the time, he announced plans to return to BYU and he entered his name into the NBA draft.
Ultimately, George chose to play one more season in Provo.
“I was so excited. I was excited in a basketball sense, but I was more excited because Gideon is such an incredible ambassador for BYU,” Pope said of George’s decision. “He’s such a great spirit in our locker room. He makes us better on the court, yes. But he’s doing amazing things for this university, for our community and the state of Utah.
“He’s doing amazing things for his countrymen back in Nigeria,” Pope continued. “He’s an incredible example. The fact that we get to have him here for another year and we can soak up everything he has to offer is pretty special.”
What did George learn from testing the NBA waters?
“It was really good. It’s a privilege to work with NBA teams,” he said. “It was really good to hear feedback. I’m trying to work on my conditioning and being in the top shape of my life. I’m trying to do that every day.”
George said he has plenty of motivation this season. He credits his older brother, Samson, who played at Pittsburgh, for helping him navigate his career decisions.
“I give a lot of love to my brother, Samson. He really helped me. With the decision, it was really hard,” he said. “He was there for me, regardless of what I did. He played at Pitt. He knows college basketball. It was tough for him. He’s not going to let me make the same mistake he did. I wrote my pros and cons down. And I came back.”
The Cougars are glad George decided to return. He’s providing leadership and he’s helping the younger players on the team.
“I guard Gideon every day in practice and I’m learning a lot from him, guarding him and as he’s guarding me,” said freshman Richie Saunders. “I’m grateful for that example.”
Cougars on the air
vs. BYU (4-3)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. MST
Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM