By: Justin Parker
It is amazing how much one year of hard work can pay off.
Third-year forward Connor Gilmore was named as an Ontario University Athletics First-Team All-Star this year, his first major individual award since joining the Marauders. Gilmore has solidified himself as a strong leader on and off the court.
“It’s a big honour for me. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Gilmore said. “I’ve been put in a good position at this school to be successful. A lot of it had to do with the type of guys we had on the team, the way our team played… Just wanting to play hard for my teammates made it easy to be in a position to earn the award… My parents… I couldn’t do anything without them.”
After major roster changes, including the departure of seniors Leon Alexander and Aaron Redpath, Gilmore was thrust into a larger role. An off-season of hard work and another year of maturity allowed Gilmore to step into this vacancy and capitalize on his increased minutes, where he saw his points and rebounds averages double to 19.5 and 9 per game respectively.
“I think I was ready to step in and be a bigger contributor this year,” Gilmore said. “We had a lot of good players in the years past, so it was harder to be that guy. I just took advantage of an opportunity… I just wanted to do everything I could to play.”
Next year, Gilmore will look to build on his leadership abilities from this season along with starting guard Dave McCulloch. The two third-year players made a good mix in leading the team to the OUA quarterfinals despite the team’s struggles during the regular season.
“I’m more of the aggressive, get on guys in practice [person], Dave’s really good at calming guys down, teaching them what needs to be taught,” Gilmore said. “I think they look at me like the meaner guy, but you need a guy like that on the team. I want everyone to succeed so sometimes you need to push them… just wanting to make them better as players, and as people sometimes too. Me and Dave are a good mix like that – kind of a good cop, bad cop kind of deal.”
Coming off his first year as the team’s top player, Gilmore knows he needs to hold himself up to the same standards he holds his teammates to. Even in having a career year, there’s always more work to do in preparation for next season.
“Now that I can drive, I can shoot… I need to work on dribble counter moves, different ways to score around the basket,” Gilmore said. “I’m also working on my defence for the summer, as that’s kind of been… one of the weaker parts of my game. I’m sticking around here all summer… so I’ll have lots of individual time to spend with the coaches, the strength and conditioning staff, to achieve those goals.”
The Marauders once again have high hopes for next year and are acting now to achieve their goals. The team will have a busy off-season recruiting and practicing for next year, and will follow Gilmore’s lead, as they will need to rely on him if they are going to make it far into the post-season.