Tuesday , February 28, 2017 - 5:00 AM
This story is the second of three profiles on Weber State men’s basketball seniors. The Wildcats play their final home games Thursday and Saturday.
OGDEN — Like an impressive dunk on a fast break, Richaud Gittens prepared himself in the summer of 2016 to finish his Weber State career with authority, but a Jones fracture in his foot set the senior guard back.
Undeterred, the left-hander from Tempe, Arizona, made it back in time for the season opener against Antelope Valley, only to play six games before reinjuring his foot.
“When I approached it, I just wanted to get back as fast as possible so I could help the team,” Gittens said. “I know right now that wasn’t the smartest thing to do because I ended up breaking my foot again.
“After the second time, I wanted to just keep my teammates motivated and keep them ready to go at all times. That was my role — to be a better leader for the guys on the team.”
On the bench, Gittens can be seen during every game talking to his teammates, yelling and jumping up and down in excitement to support his team.
The unfamiliar experience has given the senior guard a different perspective of the game.
“It gives me a chance to see the game a lot better than what I’ve seen it in the past,” Gittens said. “Before games, I talk to all the guards and the bigs and keep them motivated. The one I try to be hard on is Jerrick (Harding). He’s a freshman and I know what he’s capable of. I know what he can do and I know how he plays.”
Because his injury happened so early in the season, Gittens was granted a medical redshirt and still has a year of eligibility left — but it won’t be used at Weber State.
“I’ll graduate this year, but next year I’m going to graduate-transfer and I’m going to leave Weber,” Gittens said. “I’m still going to watch these guys because they’re still my family. I still have my brothers on this team that I have to talk to and look after as well. It sucks that I have to leave, but I know in the long run it’s going to be a good decision for me as well.”
Gittens does not yet know where he’s going, but said he will not go to another school in the Big Sky Conference.
Neither Gittens or head coach Randy Rahe would speak directly about the reason the senior won’t remain a Wildcat. But, even with his departure, WSU appears to be oversigned in its allotted 13 basketball scholarships next season.
“My heart broke when he got hurt this year. Not so much for our team, but just for him because he put so much into this summer to have a great senior year,” Rahe said. “We’re really sorry to see that we’re not going to see that last year in him. He’s going to be a great father and a successful person in whatever he choses to do.”
Despite his season-ending injury, Gittens will not leave Weber State without good memories after being part of two championship teams.
Last season will stick with him the most, he said. The Wildcats bounced back from one of the most disappointing seasons in the Rahe era to make its return to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
“We didn’t have a good year at all,” Gittens said of his sophomore year. “I know a lot of people doubted us, but we wouldn’t let anybody get in our way. We were going to stay together as a family. When we won the championship, you just feel on top of the world at that point. Nobody in the Big Sky could say anything to us because we did it.”
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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