After three colleges in two seasons, former Gig Harbor basketball standout Sam Gagliardi has a new home. He just had to go to Florida to find it.
On June 20, it was announced that Gagliardi was the newest member of the 2019 Florida Gulf Coast University recruiting class. The six-foot-six guard had previously attended California Baptist, Olympic College, and lastly, Citrus College. With just two years of eligibility left, Gagliardi wanted a chance to find a program that had a winning tradition and winning culture and he feels like he found it at FGCU.
“They’ve made the NCAA Tournament over the last few years and they’re always competing for a conference championship,” Gagliardi said. “I felt like that was a spot where I had a chance to possibly win a conference championship and possibly make the NCAA Tournament. It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid. The winning atmosphere and winning culture is what appealed to me.”
Gagliardi’s college basketball journey began at Cal Baptist where he red-shirted and did not play, before transferring to Olympic
College. At Olympic, he put up 16 points per game but went on a late-season tear averaging 25.7 points per contest to end the 2017-18 season.
At Citrus College, Gagliardi started all 32 games and averaged 12 points and four rebounds. However, he was most dangerous from the outside as 73 percent of his shots that season were from behind the arc. Gagliardi put up a career-high 34 points vs. Barstow on February 16 going 10-for-18 from three-point range.
“Sam is a high-quality person and student who played for a very good coach and junior college program last season,” FGCU head coach Michael Fly said in a press release. “He is a big wing that can really shoot the ball, has a very high basketball IQ and can guard on the defensive end of the floor. Sam comes from a great family and is a winner on and off the court. We are excited to add to our program.”
Late in the recruiting cycle, Gagliardi was still looking for a place to finish out his career, as FGCU was in need of a shooter. Going from one end of the country to the other wasn’t really that tough of a task for Gagliardi to be presented with, since it gave him a chance to play basketball since he was around five years old.
Now he goes from Washington to California to Florida still chasing that dream.
“They let me know that they had a scholarship open and they thought I would be a great fit,” Gagliardi said. “Basketball has taken me a lot of places it took me to California and now Florida. It’s taken me all over this country, I think it’s awesome, I get to see a different part of the country. I grew up in Washington my whole life so getting to experience different parts of the country while playing basketball has been amazing.”