BYU forward Gideon George loves basketball.
But he’s also determined to give back and provide help for those in need. Just like he once needed.
A few years ago, George attended a basketball camp after traveling eight hours on a bus from his remote village of Minna, Nigeria. He and some others slept outside, waiting for their chance to play.
At that camp, Brandon Goble of JUCO Advocate, who puts on basketball clinics and finds athletes that want to attend college and play in the United States, discovered George.
George signed with New Mexico Junior College. While there, he started collecting shoes to send to youngsters back home.
How this started was chronicled in a Deseret News story in 2020, not long after George signed with the Cougars.
For Friday night’s game between BYU and San Diego State, fans are encouraged to bring a pair of new or lightly used shoes to the Marriott Center to donate to the Gideon George Shoe Drive, in conjunction with Timeout For Africa and BYU Global Supply Chain Management.
George is collecting shoes to send back to his homeland of Nigeria.
“He’s one of the best human beings that I know. He’s a special, special kid. Gideon is always looking to give back to the kids,” New Mexico Junior College coach Luke Adams told the Deseret News. “He’s always trying to serve. He’s a great Christian kid. He’s very appreciative of everything. He’s not entitled. He’s just so happy.
“He’s in the moment all of the time. He’s a happy person. He’s a very hard worker. He’s coachable and I don’t think he’s ever had a bad attitude or thinking about himself. He thinks of others,” he continued. “He has a pure heart. I’ve never seen a kid as pure as him as far as how unselfish he is and what kind of teammate he is off the floor.
“Anyone that gets to know him loves him because he doesn’t ask for anything and he’s so grateful. It’s rare to see. If I could coach a Gideon George every year, I would do it. I’d have zero issues with that.”
George is one of three BYU players that hail from Africa, along with Fousseyni Traore and Atiki Ally Atiki.
Assistant coach Nick Robinson said George’s game has taken a big jump since last year.
“Gideon’s effort and energy has really improved consistently. Defensively, he’s doing a great job of talking and executing what we’re asking of him,” he said. “Offensively, he’s making the simple play. That’s been a real big step for him to gain more confidence in what we’re doing.”
In BYU’s season-opening win over Cleveland State last Tuesday, George scored three points and grabbed seven rebounds.