COLUMBIA — Off the court, Brandon Gleason, senior captain of the Douglass boys' basketball team, is quiet and mild mannered. On the court, the dreadlocked 5-foot-7 point guard releases a whole different personality.
“He’s the best leader we’ve had in the 12 years that I’ve been here,” said Bulldogs coach Lynn Allen, adding the program has been around for just as long. “He’s a very vocal leader. He may even go overboard sometimes.”
Gleason has helped the Bulldogs (6-8) stay afloat this season. The team is without leading scorer Amelio Lawson, who is suspended indefinitely from the team.
“Brandon has been our glue. He’s really a team-first guy,” said Allen, who said he has had several off-the-court issues with players this season.
Allen praised Gleason for his composure and attitude toward referees. He gives Gleason much of the credit for the sportsmanship awards his teams have won over the past couple of years. The coach has also used Gleason for some comic relief. Allen has recently referred to him at practice as Larry Fitzgerald, the wide receiver for the Super Bowl-bound Arizona Cardinals who also has lengthy dreadlocks.
Gleason has excelled on the court and off. He is scoring 19.3 points per game, is a straight-A student and also maintains a job at Truman Veterans Hospital during the season. This year, he has helped his team to a tournament win at Jamestown and also was an all-tournament selection at the Stover Invitational.
“He’s one of those guys you can count on, rain or shine,” Allen said.
Just before the district tournament last season, Gleason was in a car accident and was thrown through a windshield. Gleason was lucky and was mostly unharmed, only suffering a small chip in a bone in his back. However, he was unable to play in districts, which might have been a factor in the Bulldogs' early ouster from the tournament with a loss to Wellsville.
“God had my side,” Gleason said. “That makes me want it that much more this year, because it’s my senior year.”
Allen said the Bulldogs have several tough home games coming up, including a game against Chamois on Monday. Allen said his team should finish strong.
Meanwhile, Gleason said he wants to leave a lasting impression at Douglass. He won’t watch from the sidelines come district time.
“This year I want to go down in a fight,” Gleason said.