Stealing his way into the record books

December 6, 2021

SPIDER PRIDE

It’s almost like Jacob Gilyard’s hands attract the basketball.

“Most of the time it's not even a thought,” he said. “A lot of it is just instinct. If I'm close to the ball, I should get it.”

On Sunday Gilyard became the NCAA Division 1 career steals leader, passing a 19-year-old record held by Providence's John Linehan.

“I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time pretty often,” he said. “I have good anticipation skills. Obviously, I want to get the steal, but more times than not, it's not for me to get the ball. It's more likely for us to get a bucket off of it.”

The Richmond grad student broke the record in the final minutes of the game against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls over the weekend. With just over two minutes to go, the Panther’s Cole Henry was wide open and ready to make a layup. But Gilyard slapped the ball away and took it up the court. 

The Spiders bench leapt to its feet. Gilyard’s family and friends who had made the five-hour drive from his hometown of Kansas City cheered and held up the numbers 3-8-6.

"It was definitely big time, to hear my family roar after I got the steal was huge," said Gilyard. "I'm just happy to have my family here to see it."

Gilyard returned to the Spiders for the 2021-22 season with an extra year of NCAA eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It just feels like this is what was supposed to happen,” Gilyard said, “to be able to play one more year with these guys means a lot to me.”