Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
The return to the Siegel Center was something that redshirt-senior forward Michael Gilmore had in the back of his mind while he was in Florida.
Former assistant coach Jeremy Ballard, who recruited Gilmore out of high school, called after last season to let him know VCU was interested. Shortly after the phone call, coach Mike Rhoades flew down to Florida Gulf Coast to meet him.
“When the opportunity arose, I was like, ‘Whoa, I’ve been thinking about this the whole time,’” Gilmore said. “Now that it was actually there, it was kind of scary because of it being another huge transition for me. But it was obviously a great opportunity that I took advantage of.”
Gilmore came to Richmond out of high school and played two seasons at VCU. He transferred from VCU to Miami before ending up at Florida Gulf Coast for his junior season.
The transition brought him closer to his family, and he was in search for more playing time.
“When I initially decided to leave [VCU], it was more about athletic reasons and me playing,” Gilmore said. “Once I got the opportunities at Miami and Florida Gulf Coast … it was a great experience being back down in Florida, being able to play in front of my family.”
Gilmore played for two former VCU coaches, Shaka Smart and Will Wade, in his first two seasons in Richmond — making trips to the NCAA Tournament each year.
“Initially coming here out of high school, [I] fell in love with the culture, fell in love with the attitude and everything that VCU embodied,” Gilmore said. “I bought into coach Smart’s philosophy, ended up getting us [to the NCAA Tournament]. The next year, bought into coach Wade’s and we got here again.”
He is the only player in VCU history to play in three NCAA Tournaments for three different head coaches.
“It’s a crazy experience just making it to the NCAA Tournament not once but three times with three different leaders,” Gilmore said. “I think they all had their similarities and techniques … they all wanted you to buy into one goal.”
In his sophomore season, Gilmore played in 30 games and made 18 starts for the Rams, averaging 11.5 minutes.
During that campaign, Gilmore scored 12 points in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament against Oklahoma. He shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including two 3-pointers.
The Jacksonville, Florida, native started 20 games for the Florida Gulf Coast in his year there. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds while playing in Fort Myers, Florida.
Gilmore returned to Richmond for his graduate season to play under Rhoades this year.
“A lot of trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day, [VCU] is one of the greatest places that I’ve been at,” Gilmore said. “It’s a testament for me returning here for my last year. I think that says it all.”
The 6-foot-10-inch forward appeared in all 33 games this season for the Rams, averaging 2.8 points in 7.2 minutes.
“At the end of the day it just shows the testament that the school has,” Gilmore said, “this team and the attitude and culture that we embody.”
This season’s culture was built on hard work, and it paid off, as the Rams made the NCAA Tournament after missing the Big Dance last year.
“On all three teams that I’ve been on that made it, we all had a common interest, a common goal,” Gilmore said. “Guys set their agendas aside, set their pride aside and we came together, especially when we won games when we needed to.”
Gilmore logged six minutes and a block in his final game for the Black and Gold, as the Rams fell to UCF March 22 in Columbia, South Carolina.
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