Every athlete makes sacrifices to play the game they love. Sometimes it’s a lesser role for the betterment of the team. Sometimes it’s traveling thousands of miles to pursue the game you love. In the case of Admon Gilder, it meant leaving his three-year old daughter in Texas to head way up north to Spokane, Washington in hopes of making a Final Four.
The grad transfer from Texas A&M didn’t just make a personal sacrifice, but an on-court one as well. After starting the first nine games, Joel Ayayi jumped into the starting line-up, forcing Gilder to a bench role for the first time since his freshman season. He not only did it, but excelled as Gonzaga’s sixth man down the stretch of the season. Mark Few also demanded the natural introvert to become an extroverted vocal leader, a challenge he took in stride.
A family sacrifice, a team sacrifice, and a personality sacrifice. Gilder did each of them with a trust in God, a smile on his face, and a headband around his noggin, all with the hopes of making his first Final Four playing the game he loves.
Joel Ayayi with the steal, Admon Gilder with the huge dunk pic.twitter.com/iamgGT6VGC— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 19, 2020
Gilder wasn’t just a story of sacrifice, but a story of perseverance. After a blood clot in his arm sidelined him for the entire 2018-19 season, Gilder wasn’t sure he would even play the sport again. Through time, rehab, and faith, Gilder was able to grind his way back to relative health. He transferred to Gonzaga on May 5, but still wasn’t fully up to speed during Fall workouts. You could see glimpses of his explosiveness right before Gonzaga traveled to the Bahamas. But an ankle injury in the Battle for Atlantis set Gilder back again.
He never stopped working. With a more consistent weekly conference schedule, Gilder was able to manage his rehab in a way that gave him his full explosiveness back by the end of the season. On senior night, he completely shut down Jordan Ford in the second half. In the WCC Title game, he scored 15 points off the bench.
Gilder ended his senior season with the highest offensive rating and best defensive rating of his college career. He was fifth in the WCC in steal rate and averaged less than a turnover per contest, best on the team. During an eight-game stretch of conference season, Gilder averaged 13.1 points on 50 percent shooting, including 42 percent from deep, along with 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
If there was any x-factor when March Madness came around, Gilder may have been that guy. He went to the Sweet 16 twice with Texas A&M, but had the chance to play all the way into April with Gonzaga. The world had other plans.
Gilder became a fan favorite in Spokane, despite being here just a short time. His sacrifice, perseverance, and team-first mentality make him a perfect example of what it means to be a Zag, and we are forever grateful for that.