By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
GLENSIDE — Christian Guldin “lived” in the gym at DeSales University from age 9 to 13.
That’s when his older brother Michael suited up for the Bulldogs. Christian and his parents Mike and Marie made the short trip from Perkasie down Route 309 to Center Valley for almost every home game. He made his way onto the floor during intermission to shoot and then back again after the game.
“Me and coach’s son Nick would always get shots up at halftime, try to get the ball up on the rim as best as we could,” Guldin said. “He’s known me since I was 9.”
Nine years after his brother last suited up for the program, Guldin is wrapping up his own DeSales career. Head coach Scott Coval, who is in his 31st season, certainly had a recruiting edge when trying to get Christian out of Pennridge High School in 2020.
Guldin played his 83rd career game Saturday at Arcadia, scoring 13 points in the 87-61 victory as the Bulldogs improved to 17-2 and 8-0 in the MAC Freedom.
Pennridge product Christian Guldin used to visit DeSales when his older brother Michael played at the school. (Photo: Stephanie Graffin/DeSales Athletics)
“Michael had a great career for us. They’re different types of players, but Christian is having a great career for us too,” Coval said. “The Guldin family has been very good to DeSales basketball, very good.”
Michael Guldin played at DeSales from 2011-2015. He was a lefthanded pass-first point guard, who averaged 5.3 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 88 career games, including 59 starts.
After growing up watching his brother play, Guldin was part of two Suburban One League Continental Division championships and state playoff runs at Pennridge, including a state runner-up finish as a junior. He was a first team all-league player as a senior.
The dream wasn’t necessarily to follow in Mike’s footsteps but DeSales was definitely a school that attracted him. He played in 10 of the team’s 11 games during a COVID shortened freshman season and averaged 3.3 ppg and 2.2 rpg in 10.8 minutes per game in 27 contests as a sophomore when the Bulldogs qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, Guldin was fourth on the team in minutes (23.9 mpg) despite coming off the bench in 27 games, averaging 8.2 ppg and 3.2 rpg. He was fourth on the team in scoring and second in made threes with 48.
“We had a really good team since I got here freshman year through now,” Guldin said. “It’s always just working hard, trying to help the team out in whatever way possible, whether it’s shooting, offensive rebounds, whatever the team needs to win. That’s what I want to do.”
Guldin has started all 19 games as a senior, averaging 9.1 ppg and 2.8 rpg in 20.8 mpg. He’s hit a team-high 37 threes. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, however.
“He’s a great shooter, and obviously everyone knows that, but he’s an unbelievable leader,” Coval said. “He’s that high, high character. He’s a great leader, he’s a great connector. He’s way better with the ball than he has been. He’s really worked on his ball handling and passing. He’s a good defender. “
Like he did as a kid, Guldin “lives” in DeSales’ gym. He’s consistently getting up shots outside of practice and it is paying off this season.
After shooting 39.5 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent as a junior, Guldin is shooting 43.1 percent from the floor and 42.5 percent from deep. He got the Bulldogs out to a 15-4 lead with a trio triples early in Saturday’s win.
“One goal for myself that I had coming into the year was just trying to be a more consistent shooter,” Guldin said. “You always get in hot streaks and then you get a little cold, and a goal for myself was to limit the ups and downs, try to stay consistent throughout the whole year.”
Junior forward Devin Atkinson scored a team-high 18 points in another balanced effort Saturday, going 4-for-4 from deep. Senior forward Elijah Eberly added 15, junior forward Caleb Gibbs 11 and senior guard Ryan Boylan 10, all adding seven rebounds apiece as well, to give DeSales six double-figure scorers Saturday.
That’s the status quo for the Bulldogs who have six guys averaging more than eight points per game, led by Eberly at 12.8 ppg.
“It’s anyone’s night. We’re all confident with each other,” Guldin said. “Devin had three or four threes tonight. He was really hot. Will Bowan was hitting a bunch of threes. Everyone’s confident in each other to put up shots. Everyone puts a lot of work in on this team and everyone is willing to let them shoot.”
While DeSales reached the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team during Guldin’s sophomore campaign, he and his classmates are still searching for their first league title before they graduate.
The Bulldogs went 22-6 and 14-2 in the MAC Freedom before losing to Lycoming in the league title game. They put together a 21-6 campaign and 14-2 conference mark in 2022-23 before falling to the Arcadia squad they beat Saturday in the MAC Freedom championship.
Guldin, an accounting and finance major, has a job lined up at RSM in Blue Bell after he graduates, but he also has an extra year of eligibility should he so choose. That decision can wait. Right now, he and his teammates are working with one goal in mind.
“I’m trying to just take it day by day here and focus on winning a championship this year,” Guldin said.