On Wednesday, the Grand Canyon men’s basketball team made the trip to Denver for Friday’s first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament against No. 3-seeded Gonzaga. Unfortunately, 12 bags of their team gear did not.
Without jerseys, warmups or even basketball shoes, Antelopes head coach Bryce Drew knew of someone who was also in Denver at the time and might be able to help them out: Scott Drew, Bryce’s brother and national championship-winning head coach at Baylor, who will be leading his team against No. 14-seeded UC-Santa Barbara on Friday.
Scott offered Baylor’s backup uniforms for Grand Canyon to practice in, if it came to that.
“We’re gonna hook ’em up,” Scott told CBS Sports. “What are big brothers for!”
Team staffers also made an emergency run to a nearby sports store to restock, and the Antelopes practiced on Wednesday with a combination of new and donated gear. The emergency was resolved when the Antelopes’ original bags arrived late Wednesday night.
𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘: bags secured. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/tfb60hgqzF
— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) March 16, 2023
Regardless, the saga has certainly given Grand Canyon’s players and staff a memorable March Madness moment of a much different sort, and the Drew brothers a source of laughter for years to come.
Meanwhile, Grand Canyon’s team flight to Denver began far more auspiciously, with an intercom prayer on the plane from redshirt junior Gabe McGlothan.
— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) March 15, 2023
He’s the team’s leading rebounder (7.7 per game) and second-leading scorer (12.8 points per game), and was named to the Western Athletic Conference’s All-Tournament Team after the Antelopes’ 84-66 victory over Southern Utah in the conference tournament final Saturday. The win sent Grand Canyon dancing for the second time ever and the second time in the last three seasons.
McGlothan scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the final, after pouring in a career-high 35 points on 13-of-20 shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds in the quarterfinals against Seattle.
McGlothan got baptized three years ago after giving his life to Christ. Before performing the sacrament, he briefly gave his testimony:
“Before surrendering my life to Jesus, I was caught in a materialistic lifestyle of playing basketball, being self-centered and getting caught up in the college party lifestyle. I felt empty. After basketball was temporarily taken away from me in October, I knew I needed to change.
“… After attending church, I realized I was living on my own terms and I needed to surrender my life to Jesus, and I did that on October 30th. Since then, I feel brand new and I feel free from all the sin that held me down. Although many temptations are still there, I’ve learned that community is important to me walking out my faith. Now that I’ve experienced this love, I cannot wait to share it with those around me.
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McGlothan feels emboldened to share about his growing faith partly because Grand Canyon is a private Christian university in Phoenix. The school’s website says, “At Grand Canyon University (GCU) you are encouraged to find your purpose and shape your own perspective by embracing a distinctive Christian worldview. This means that we not only integrate faith in our curriculum, but also in our actions we take to positively impact our community.”
Coach Drew has fully embraced that mission, even as he’s led the Antelopes to unprecedented success on the basketball court with two NCAA Tournament appearances in his three seasons with the team. As a believer himself who has been a guest on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in December 2020 and featured in the Spring 2023 edition of the Sports Spectrum Magazine, he knows well what kind of a platform to speak about Christ that basketball can bring.
He hit one of the most iconic shots in NCAA Tournament history to lift his Valparaiso team to a first-round upset of Ole Miss in 1998.
“When God blesses you and He gives you something that you don’t deserve — and He gave me an awesome platform with that ball going in the rim; it very easily could’ve been short and not gone in — it’s something that I really enjoy talking about, just because there was a lot of commitment in it, a lot of hard work, a lot of faith, a lot of belief,” Drew reflected on the podcast.
Bryce was taught about Jesus from a young age by his mother, Janet, and his father, Homer, who was the coach at Valparaiso when Bryce hit the shot. Yet his faith truly became his own when he required surgery to correct a heart condition in high school.
“It kind of made me grow up early and realize, ‘You know what? When I open my eyes, I have no control over what’s going to happen in my life,” he said. “From that point on, even if my parents were out of town and couldn’t go to church, I wanted to go and learn more about the Lord and grow in my faith.
“That was my first step, but there’ve been other steps along the way where I think God’s really shown me His presence and just how He’s in control no matter if it’s a good circumstance or a bad circumstance.”
Merry CHRISTmas! pic.twitter.com/Gc0pr1Wb5y
— CoachBryceDrew (@BryceDrewCoach) December 25, 2021
Now, with his Grand Canyon Antelopes heavy underdogs against Gonzaga, Bryce hopes to win more unforgettable games as he relishes the NCAA Tournament platform God has given him.
The Antelopes and Bulldogs are scheduled to tip at 7:35 p.m. ET on Friday.
– MAGAZINE: How God Drew It Up – 25 years after Bryce Drew’s iconic shot
– Bryce Drew walking by faith in leading Grand Canyon to 1st NCAA Tourney
– SS PODCAST: Bryce Drew – Grand Canyon University men’s basketball coach
– SS PODCAST: Scott Drew on Baylor’s culture of J.O.Y., his platform for Christ
– Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith preps for tourney as ‘Child of God through Christ’