The Samford men’s basketball team is better when Ques Glover is available to play.

Let’s get that out of the way quickly.

For 11 games, the Bulldogs found out what life without Glover in the lineup was like. It turns out that was also pretty impressive.

“He was just so tuned into our team’s success. That was really good to see,” said Samford coach Bucky McMillan. “When we win on the road, he’d say, ‘Great win, coach, I’m so happy for us.’ It always stayed ‘us’ with him. You’d see him on the bench, happy for the guys when they were really playing well. It’s tough when you can’t compete to still impact the team. He did that. He came up to the ETSU with us because he knew it meant something that he was there.”

That’s not to say it was smooth sailing the entire time without the standout 6-foot point guard, who first hurt his knee in practice on November 26, left midway through the second half against DePaul on November 30, and didn’t return to the lineup until last Saturday. Without Glover, the Bulldogs lost five games before flipping a switch once SoCon play began. The Bulldogs are currently riding an eight-game winning streak heading into an important SoCon road trip to Furman on Wednesday and Wofford on Saturday.

“It was amazing,” Glover said of the Bulldogs’ start to SoCon play. “Watching the team have a lot of success out there without me was tremendous, seeing the guys out there succeeding at a high level and winning a lot of games in this conference, which is a hard conference to win games in, winning on the road. Being able to be back out there with those guys and competing at a high level is probably one of the best feelings ever.”

Glover said he didn’t think the injury he suffered during practice was a big deal. He did miss the next game, an 84-82 loss to NAIA Tennessee Southern, and sat out a practice but felt ready to go at DePaul. He played 17 minutes in the game but had to leave for good with about 12 minutes left in the second half.   

“We went up to DePaul, and it was feeling normal,” said Glover, a Knoxville, Tenn. native. “I went in for a layup and tried to get back on defense. This guy was trying to get open and pushed off on me. It popped, and I looked up at my parents. I was like, ’No, it doesn’t feel right.’ It was feeling unstable. I wanted to finish that DePaul game for my teammates and also my parents, who traveled all the way to Chicago to watch us play. I tried to fight through it, and it just didn’t work out.”

McMillan said Samford trainer Brad Montgomery deserves a ton of credit for leading Glover through the rehab. It was Glover’s first big injury in his athletic career, and he attacked the rehab with patience.

“It was very strategic. Brad Montgomery did an incredible job,” McMillan said. “Brad’s been around now. He was at West Alabama for (30) years. He’s really good. (Glover) probably could have got on the floor (at less than full strength) two weeks ago. He really just committed to rehab. He pretty much rehabbed full time and had success coming back.”

Glover said the patient approach over the past couple of weeks helped him on Saturday when he jumped back in the lineup with a game-high 20 points during a win over visiting Western Carolina. He took part in warmups against Chattanooga at home and at East Tennessee State but didn’t play in the game.

“I think it helped a lot,” Glover said. “When I went out there and warmed up with the guys, it kind of made me feel like I was getting ready to play, and it kind of made the guys feel like I was getting ready to play. Just being out there with them, having my energy, making guys laugh, pumping them up and getting ready to play. When it was really time for me to play, it wasn’t as many butterflies on me.”

Glover has played a big role at Samford since the day he stepped on campus. Glover, who led Bearden High in Knoxville to the Tennessee Class AAA state championship in 2018, played for two seasons at the University of Florida. McMillan and the Samford staff reached out quickly once he entered the portal.

“I played against Coach Bucky in high school when he was at Mountain Brook,” said Glover. “After the game, I told my dad that I really liked the way that guy coached. I liked his energy and stuff like that. My dad felt the same way. When Bucky called me when I entered the portal, it was kind of like there was no way I could turn this down because me and my dad both wanted me to play for a coach like that.”

He played a big role last season, averaging 19.2 points and 4.4 assists per game on the way to earning All-Southern Conference honors. He was on the way to similar success at the start of this season, but perhaps, the time off this season helped him be even better.

“I took some time off, not only from basketball but to just work on my mental side and get closer to God,” Glover said. “I prayed a lot and talked to my parents. I grew my relationship with my teammates – on and off the court. That was kind of big for me. It just kept me at peace with everything, knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

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