‘He put on a show’: By George, did BYU just discover a new star in win over St. John’s?
Junior Gideon George, a native of Nigeria who has only been playing basketball for a few years, recorded a double-double with a career-high 13 points and 15 rebounds. He was the spark off the bench that the Cougars needed.
Perhaps a star was born for BYU basketball in the Cougars’ 74-68 victory over St. John’s Wednesday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, of all places.
Junior Gideon George, a native of Nigeria who has only been playing basketball for a few years, recorded a double-double with a career-high 13 points and 15 rebounds against the Red Storm. George was the spark off the bench that the Cougars needed.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Gideon. What an unbelievable effort he had. He’s just learning on the fly. He doesn’t have a ton of experience but he had such a huge impact on this game.” — BYU coach Mark Pope, on Gideon George
“I couldn’t be more proud of Gideon. What an unbelievable effort he had,” said coach Mark Pope. “He’s just learning on the fly. He doesn’t have a ton of experience but he had such a huge impact on this game.”
George told Pope after the game that he woke up at 3 a.m. that morning because “he was so upset” about BYU’s 26-point loss to USC on Tuesday.
Against the Trojans, George showed flashes of his ability, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds.
Against St. John’s, George took out any frustration he may have been feeling by playing 22 impactful minutes, especially in the waning moments of the game.
George grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw by teammate Brandon Averette with 39 seconds remaining when BYU led by four points, 70-66. He was fouled and he knocked down one of two free throws.
Later, the New Mexico Junior College transfer rebounded a missed shot by St. John’s and was fouled with 24.4 seconds remaining. He hit both free throws to put the outcome away for the Cougars. On the day, George made 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.
On top of that, his versatility and strong defensive play paid big dividends.
“You think about Gideon’s contributions to this game. He had 15 rebounds and the two most important rebounds of the game,” Pope said. “He’s capable of guarding defensively. He had the toughest defensive assignment for the bulk of his minutes on the floor. He’s playing two different positions for us, the three and the four, which is super unfair on my part. We’ve needed him to do that. He makes some of the greatest Nigerian food you’ll ever taste. He’s an unbelievable young man and he sure put on a show tonight. I’m super proud of him.”
Meanwhile, the nation took notice of George.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweeted at the end of the game, “BYU has a future WCC star in Gideon George. Will be a menace for the Cougars.”
For his part, George is having the time of his life.
“I’m loving it out here at BYU. I’m having fun playing the game I love,” he said. “For the coaching staff to trust in me is something that’s big-time to me. Them believing in me, coming off the bench, and doing what I do and having confidence in me.”
On this day for BYU, a player from an unlikely place maybe became a star in an unlikely place. And the Cougars can’t wait to see what the future holds for George.