Gilson Still Going Up Strong
Blazer Blessings: After Earning NWAC All-Star Honors, Centralia Star is CWU Bound
By Jordan Nailon
Marqus Gilson just wrapped up an impressive two year run on the hardwood at Centralia College but that doesn’t mean he has any intention of hanging up his sneakers any time soon.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore forward out of Saratoga Springs, Utah, was dubbed an NWAC All-Star last month. That honor came Gilson’s way following a romp through the regular season that saw the Trailblazers finish third in the West Conference. In the playoffs the Blazers made a charge into the Elite 8 of the NWAC Championships tournament before falling victim to a juggernaut North Idaho squad that cruised all the way to a title.
Gilson led the charge for the Blazers all year with team-highs in both points per game (19) and rebounds (8.8). In 30 games this season GIlson also averaged 2.1 assists and 1.2 blocks while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.
With those accomplishments tucked away following his second season in blue and gold, Gilson is now looking forward to taking his talents to Ellensburg where he will join the Wildcat basketball team next season. He explained that Central Washington University had been keeping tabs on him and then, right before the NWAC Tournament began in early March, they made him an offer that he was all too happy to accept.
Gilson explained that he felt committing to CWU before tournament play took some weight off of his broad shoulders.
“I wasn’t really thinking about ‘Where am I going after this. What coaches were there?’ I could just go out and play,” Gilson said.
Of course, there’s an origin story for Gilson’s journey to Centralia College from Utah, as well. He says he came to Washington for a visit to Wenatchee Valley College and had planned on signing there until turnover on the coaching staff scuttled those plans. Gilson noted that on his way out the door Wenatchee’s coach put in a good word for him to Centralia assistant coach Jonathan McMillan.
“It was just a blessed thing, I guess,” Gilson said.
Gilson grew up watching his dad play basketball and noted that, “Ever since I was a baby I’ve just always had a ball in my hand.” He began playing organized hoops in third grade before advancing to become the second-leading scorer at Westlake High School.
He noted that instead of pursuing sports or academics right out of high school many of his former teammates instead traveled abroad in order to undertake Christian missionary work. Sometimes he catches himself pondering that dichotomy as he attempts to stay in touch with his old friends.
“It’s definitely interesting to see what they are going through compared to what I’m doing. They’re out doing stuff for the Lord and I’m out here trying to better myself and get my education. It’s just two different worlds, really,” Gilson explained.
Two years ago, though, when he first arrived in the Hub City, it didn’t take long for Gilson to find his calling with the Trailblazers.
“I feel like I’ve always been just a hustle player for Coach. A leader of the team that sets an example for the other guys. Coach kind of put me in that role right at the beginning of this year. Even last year, with like two sophomores, I was the leader of the team because there wasn’t really anybody else there,” GIlson said.
He added that his relationship with McMillan blossomed right away and noted that the Blazers assistant has helped him with too many things to count, both on and off the court. As for head coach Jason Moir? Gilson says that relationship took a little longer to develop.
“Jason is a great guy off the court. He’s funny. Honestly I love him. But on the court he’s so competitive you can butt heads with him. But off the court, I love him man,” Gilson said.
Gilson also had plenty of love to share with his teammates he’s bonded with over the last two seasons at Centralia.
“LB (LaBrandon Price), Dionte’ (Dixon), Liam (Murphy) when he was in. Everybody dished me the ball. They knew to look for me because I’d be running the court or working to get position. They were really good at trying to swing me the ball,” said Gilson. “I loved my whole team. From last year to this year it’s a family. It’s something special. I know I was only around them for two years but I know it’s going to be a lifelong friendship type of thing.”
Gilson insists he wasn’t “anything special” coming out of high school and he dedicated himself to his craft the past two years. He noted the defense and rebounding are the two facets of the game that he’s most proud of.
“I think I came up here and I knew I wanted to be somewhere other than a JUCO. So I started pushing myself. Hitting the weights and working my body out and it kind of paid off,” Gilson said.
Once he gets to Ellensburg his role likely won’t change too much.
“They talked to me a little bit. He wants me to come in and be a hustle player and a leader too,” said Gilson.
During his time at Centralia College, Gilson has been working on his prerequisites for pharmacy technician studies. After watching his sister go through the program back in Utah he enrolled in, and completed, an internship and now possesses a pharmacy technician licence. He is currently working on his Associate of Science degree in order to get on track for a Bachelor’s degree in either chemistry or biology.
Gilson participated in the NWAC All-Star game prior to the women’s tournament championship game. While he was grateful to be recognized among so many talented players, his team-first mentality left him slightly disappointed in the experience.
“I was hoping I could go up there and play some good basketball but everyone was just really looking out for themselves. It was an all-star game so what can you expect, I guess,” Gilson explained.
However, when he looks back on his time in Centralia his mind only recalls the positive experiences he accumulated.
“I’ve loved my time here, really. It’s just a great community and they want to see you succeed. They’re always willing to help you out.”