Oliver Giaon: a true point guard

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Image via South Lakes Boys Basketball

Marc Goldstein, Assistant Editor in Chief

In recent years, basketball has seen a revelation — Not in the sense that the players have gotten better, but in the style of play. This has trickled down to the high school level. South Lakes has historically been a solid team, but now with players like Oliver Giaon, they are soaring to new heights. Giaon is a model point guard for the Seahawks, an unselfish player who truly puts his teammates ahead of himself. 

 

In earlier years, teams at all levels would play with two guards, two forwards and a center to anchor the defense. These five players all had roles that were consistent through the years. The point guard brings the ball up and is a passer primarily, and the center gets a lot of rebounds and plays in the post. Since the turn of the 2010s, the NBA saw teams have success playing a different way, with small ball. Small ball is the concept that as long as every player on the floor can space the floor, shoot, and score enough, a team would be able to win. The Golden State Warriors, led by 2 time MVP Steph Curry embodied this thought process, winning multiple championships while setting records for three pointers made by a team. This is no different for the South Lakes Seahawks. They have not necessarily had the same extremity of this change in play, but opt to use small ball nonetheless. Oliver Giaon, senior point guard for the Seahawks, is a model point guard for this South Lakes system of play.

Image via Hudl

Giaon has been on the varsity roster for the past three seasons, playing his first varsity season as a sophomore. He did not get much playing time behind players like Cameron Savage, but in his junior year, he made a big leap. “In junior year, last year, I was starting. It was a great experience especially with some older guys like Joseph [Dagbe], Hassen [Kurtu] and Jerome [Scott]. Once they graduated, I knew my role was going to expand. I’ve just been doing everything I can to help lead this team,” Giaon explained. 

 

One thing that Giaon makes a point to continue to reiterate is the fact that he has improved over his four years at South Lakes. Between last season to this season, he thinks he has seen a stark improvement in his game. He explains, “I think that over the course of the pandemic, I have had a lot of free time that I have used to improve. I have really been hitting the gym, getting shots up, and just overall been getting better. The biggest improvement that I have made has been with my confidence. I am very confident in my abilities, and that has sometimes not been there for me.”

Image via @khanklips/Ismail Khan

Giaon embodies the older style of being a point guard terms of his mindset. He is always looking to help his teammates out and share the ball. He wants to be the best player possible and he knows that sometimes, that means not scoring as many points as possible. Putting up gaudy statlines does not mean he is the best player, he thinks. “Our goals are, at the end of the day, to win a state title. However we can get there, that is my only real goal for this season. If that means I take a backseat and let someone else be the star for us, that is fine with me. I want to win, and our coaches want to win, and our team wants to win. We all have the same goal, and we know what we need to do to achieve that goal,” Giaon detailed.

 

Giaon, now 6’2, has all of the physical traits required for a good point guard. Not only is he tall, but he can get to the paint and finish with either hand. That brute force and physicality is something that comes with being a bigger guy, but it was not always like this for Giaon. As an underclassman, he stood in the 5’10-5’11 range. This forced him to hone in his finishing skills in the paint because he would be met by much taller players. He has since grown to his current height, but he still has those very same finishing skills. “I think that earlier in high school, I wasn’t as fortunate to be as tall as I am today, so I had to out work and out hustle everyone, and I still do that now. The only thing that has changed since then is my height,” he says.  

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Image via South Lakes Boys Basketball

Since Giaon had to play without the obvious advantage of height, he had to work even harder than anyone else on the floor. He had to be creative at the rim and use the skills he did have to his advantage. Additionally, he did what many called “paying their dues.” He waited his turn for the older players before him to graduate, thus opening a larger role for him. In nearly every high school sport, this is the case. The younger players have to wait their turn and get better while the older players complete their high school eligibility. Giaon took this role in a mature manner and was determined to make his senior year a special one for him and the team. There is where he truly gets the label of a true point guard. A true point guard does not care about their own stats, but the stats of the team. Giaon couldn’t care less if he shoots 0/10 on the night, but if he dishes out enough assists to his teammates in order to win the game, he is content with his performance. To be a true point guard means that a player is unselfish and does everything for the greater good of the team. 

 
Image via @khanklips/Ismail Khan

South Lakes has seen a lot of newer faces become big time contributors for them this season. These are players who, like Giaon, were blocked from the lineup by upperclassmen from previous years. Players like Nate Owen, Sammy Cooley and EJ Finney, all of whom are juniors, have all turned into big time contributors for them in their second seasons on varsity. Giaon thinks that having the new faces on varsity continue to play at a high level is one of the keys to a successful season. “If these guys keep playing as well as they have been so far, I think we are in a good position to make a run. I mean we were already out to a 12-0 start, and we were doing really well,” he elaborated. Unfortunately, the Seahawks fell to the Madison Warhawks in the postseason, ending Giaon’s high school career. He went out, though, with pride and humility. 

 

The biggest topic of conversation for any athlete this season is how the games have changed. Not only are the players required to wear masks, but the games are live streamed to supporters. No longer are there student sections with people cheering on the team. Teams are now tasked with creating their own energy and feeding off the energy they create. Giaon explains how he has approached this season, “I think that wearing a mask while playing was a big adjustment at first. I think that now, it is something I have gotten used to, and I really don’t think about it. It is really strange playing in empty gyms, though. I don’t think that has gotten normal yet.” 

Image via South Lakes Boys Basketball

For any athlete, playing without any attendees is a very obvious difference. It forces players to motivate themselves to do their best each and every game. For Giaon, he thinks of the team’s goals whenever he loses even the slightest amount of motivation. “I just think it is important for me to put the team first, because that is what really matters here. Hanging a banner is the ultimate goal of every single program, so in the end, that should be the goal for the players, too,” he reiterates.

 

When the final buzzer sounded for the South Lakes basketball season, Giaon looks back on his four years with pride. He is able to say that he gave it his all every single day. He thinks that is the true measure of a player. He embodies the gritty, tough senior leader that will do whatever it takes to reach the desired outcome for the Seahawks. Giaon  did whatever was needed from him and went full throttle until he could no longer. Oliver Giaon is a true point guard: a team player who wants nothing more for his teammates to thrive, and to win at all costs.