James Gollon is done being patient. He’s done learning from the sidelines. He’s done visualizing himself on the court.
He’s done rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder and hip.
After two years of waiting, Gollon will finally play consistent minutes for the Bobcats this year.
“I wouldn’t even call it anxiety, I’d call it excitement,” Gollon said. “When you sit out as long as I did, you learn to appreciate how much you love something.”
Gollon was one of six freshmen in his class. He came to Athens expecting playing time to be readily available. Instead, he played 109 minutes in 20 games his first two seasons combined.
He had shoulder surgery in April of his freshman year, and hip surgery three months later. Those injuries forced him to redshirt his sophomore season.
So Gollon did what all pre-med students do: He did research and he studied.
He watched carefully as Jaaron Simmons learned to jump stop before making decisions instead of trying to pass while in the air, envisioning himself making the same correct reads as he watched. He watched film as much as he could, or “researched basketball” as he called it.
He became a sponge, and his coaches took notice.
“Certain kids—the learning comes easier for them when they’re sitting,” coach Saul Phillips said. “James made a definite choice to say, ‘Ya know what, I’m gonna learn as much as I can while I’m sitting here.’ And I think it’s paid off.”
It’s not just the mental strides that standout in Gollon’s improvement, either. For most of last season, he wasn’t allowed to run.
But he could shoot free throws. Then he was cleared to shoot free throws and shoot jump shots.
So for six months, that’s all he did.
Gollon came to Ohio as more of a ball dominant attacker. Now, he’s one of the best shooters on the roster and will be playing almost exclusively as an off-ball guard.
Without being able to move much of his body, he transformed his game. He’s finally healthy enough to show it off, too.
Gollon used to joke with Phillips that he only needed one half of his body to play. From the waste down, he’s got the athleticism. His top half gives the Bobcats a capable ball handler and jump shooter.
This season, he gets to put it all together, and his excitement is obvious to everyone around the team.
“Every area of his life he just permeates happiness right now because he can play again," Phillips said.
Gollon is done being patient. He’s also done taking basketball for granted.
He spends his time either studying film or studying textbooks. He considers his only free time to be when he’s preparing his meals while listening to health podcasts.
He meditates every morning. It taught him patience while he waited to return from his injuries. He occasionally goes to yoga classes at Ping. It keeps him nimble and flexible.
Everything he does is to ensure that he will be able to stay on the court this season. He knows what it felt like to have basketball taken away from him.
He remembers that feeling, and it drives him to make the most of the healthy days he has now.
“Every practice I try to bring it,” Gollon said. “You don’t know when something like (my injuries) could happen.”