SLU's Glaze is a player you can feel good about cheering
Losing weight, grabbing boards -- Grandy Glaze does whatever it takes, with a smile, for the Billikens
By STAN McNEAL FS Midwest
ST. LOUIS -- If you're looking for a college basketball player to root for this season, turn your attention to the Saint Louis Billikens.
Grandy Glaze, is your man. Besides the catchy name, you'll love his hustle, appreciate his attitude and be delighted by his personality. His game isn't bad, either.
Let's start with his attitude. How many college juniors do you know who decide on their own to lose 25 pounds when they really don't need to? Even when it means giving up chocolate.
"It's not easy," Glaze says.
"I never even asked him why he lost the weight," SLU coach Jim Crews says. "He plays a little quicker even though he was quick anyway."
"I know my teammates are going to count on me this year," Glaze says. "I'm no longer a freshman, I'm no longer the sophomore that was kind of finding his way. We have freshmen who are looking to me for guidance. I knew I had to make that jump to another level."
Besides changing his diet, Glaze also spent even more time in the gym over the summer. That is saying a lot for a guy who typically is the first to arrive (so he can work with the freshmen) and one of the last to leave. One SLU staffer said he walked past the gym at 9 one night and saw Glaze shooting by himself. Two hours later, he walked by again and Glaze was still practicing.
The work has paid off, on the scales as well as the court. By September, the 6-foot-6 Glaze was down to 225 pounds with 7 percent body fat.
"I noticed it instantly," he says. "I started doing things that I never could do before, getting up at the rim a lot easier. I could always run the floor, but now I can maintain that. I move a lot more effortlessly. I don't feel like I'm in 40-minute game shape. I feel like I'm in 50-minute game shape."
Given his relentless style of play, the extra conditioning will be useful. Glaze figures to see heavy minutes for the first time in his three years at SLU. Though Crews says Glaze "has a big window to grow offensively," he will make his greatest impact doing the dirty work inside.
Whatever helps the Billikens win, Glaze says. He went for a career-best 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting in SLU's opening victory over Southeast Missouri last week, but he knows that scoring is not how he figures to help the team most.
His individual goal for the season, in fact, has nothing to do with points.
"I want 15," he says, a tad sheepishly.
Fifteen rebounds a game? His smile lets you know that he can tell how outlandish that might sound.
"I want 15," he repeats.
If he falls short, it won't be because of a lack of effort. Though Glaze has handled many roles in his young career, he believes he has settled into the one that fits him best.
"Energy guy, garbage guy, glue guy," he says. "Whatever you want to call it. I'm really good with filling roles. Rebounding and defense is where my bread and butter is at this level."
Or as Crews says, "Grandy's in the middle of a lot of stuff. That's just his style. He finds the ball in different ways. He's a rather unique player."
The youngest of seven siblings, Glaze says he left his home in Toronto when he was 15 to pursue his hoop dreams in America. He attended two prep academies in the Northeast and had verbally committed to a scholarship at UNLV. But Glaze opted out when Lon Kruger went to Oklahoma and he landed at SLU.
Three years later, he looks at the rafters inside Chaifetz Arena and sees the banners waving from two of the Billikens' most successful seasons. SLU won the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season title and conference tournament on the way to a school-record 28 wins. But that merely set the foundation for this season.
"A repeat of last season would not be a big deal," he says. "We want to win everything. We want to win a championship."
Yes, that would be a national championship. While such talk sounds like a reach for a team ranked 40th in the country, Glaze doesn't come across as boastful. He has a way of making you believe, too, in part because of an outgoing personality that puts you at ease.
Crews says Glaze is the kind of person who is as comfortable talking with little children as to 90-year-olds, and he can make everyone feel like he's known them for years.
"He's such a people person," Crews says. "He's a great teammate, and that's the No. 1 thing we stress. He really has everyone's best interest in heart, and everyone knows he's sincere."
Hard-working, personable, unselfish, talented. Indeed, Grandy Glaze is someone worthy of your support.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at email@example.com.