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The Sun’s Arizin: Collin Gillespie Appreciation Day

Villanova’s star guard came up big exactly when his team needed him to.

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Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! What a game! Villanova went into a hostile environment against a Top 10 team, came out swinging, and closed down the stretch. It was everything Villanova fans have been wanting to see this team do over the course of an entire game, and a good indicator that Jay Wright has his team trending in the right direction for March.

And at the center of all of it was Collin Gillespie. Just think of how far this man has come. Five years ago, he was the scrappy shooter that could be a nice complimentary piece. Last night he was Villanova’s unquestioned leader, elevating those around him along with his own game. We’ve literally watched him go from “Give me three youngin’”, to a career high 33 when his team needed it most.

No one saw this as the ceiling for Gillespie when he first came to Villanova. Not the fans, not the coaches, and probably not even himself. But that’s something fans think about, putting limitations and ceilings on a players career. The great players don’t worry about how far they’ll get, they just worry about getting better. Tell me if any of these sound familiar:

  • Freshman Year (2018): “Jay’s good at finding these diamond in the rough guys, but he’s not going to crack the rotation on this team.” Gillespie averaged over 14 minutes a game on the 2018 National Championship team, even getting a start for a game as a freshman.
  • Sophomore Year (2019): “Gillespie’s a good catch and shoot guy, but Quinerly is the future at point guard”. Gillespie played nearly 30 minutes a game, starting every game that season and sharing point guard responsibilities with Phil Booth.
  • Junior Year (2020): “No seniors on this team, can Gillespie really be a leader and run the whole show on his own?” Gillespie is the team’s unquestioned leader, praised by coaches and teammates alike, and gets Villanova to the end of the season ranked Top 10.
  • Senior Year (2021): “I don’t know what we’d do without Gillespie.” Villanova loses Gillespie to season ending knee injury. Still, Gillespie trying to get back into the game and still traveling with the team and to the NCAA tournament as soon as his surgery allowed to support and lead his team.
  • Super Senior Year (2022): “If there’s any flaw in his game, it’s that he can be beat on defense.” Gillespie leads the team to their best KenPom Defensive Efficiency rating since 2017, and has them poised for a high seed and deep push in March.

Gillespie may not win all the accolades that his predecessor Jalen Brunson did. He may not have the charming charisma of a Josh Hart or Mikal Bridges. He doesn’t have that one shining moment like Kris Jenkins (yet). He doesn’t have the “rebuilt the program” moniker of an Ryan Arcidiacono or DanielOchefu. He won’t be scoring legend like Scottie Reynolds, or a future NBA star like Randy Foye or Kyle Lowry. But make no mistake about it, Collin Gillespie’s name belongs right there among all of these Villanova greats. He will go down as one of the best players to come through the Main Line, and I wouldn’t want anyone else in college basketball today leading this team.

In other news...

Villanova defeats Providence

Collin Gillespie takes over as Villanova takes out Providence | The Inquirer
A packed house in Providence got what it showed up for in a Big East battle. Gillespie scored a career-high 33 points.

Collin Gillespie from 3. Collin Gillespie in the post. Collin Gillespie from everywhere, to beat Providence | The Athletic
Gillespie scored a career-high 31 points, including a back-breaking 3 in the final seconds, to lead Villanova to the road win.

Collin Gillespie Hands Friars First Home Loss: Villanova defeats Providence 89-84 in career night for Gillespie | Big East Coast Bias
Villanova defeats Providence 89-84 in career night for Gillespie

No. 10 Villanova escapes with road win over No. 8 Providence | Sports Naut
Collin Gillespie scored 33 points and hit a clutch three-pointer in the final minute to help No. 10 Villanova outlast No. 8 Providence for an 89-84 win in a

Late-game thrillers highlight a wild Tuesday night in men's basketball | NCAA.com
Mark Williams posted 16 points in Duke's 76-74 win over Wake Forest. His final dunk with less than a second to play gave the Blue Devils the win. South Carolina's James Reese hit a buzzer-beater from halfcourt to put South Carolina past Ole Miss.

Villanova Men’s Basketball

Villanova University to Host Zero Waste Basketball Game on February 19 | Villanova University
On Saturday, February 19, Villanova will host its fifth Zero Waste Men’s Basketball game when the Wildcats host Georgetown University at the Finneran Pavilion. A Zero Waste game is where 90 percent or more of the waste generated during the game is diverted from the trash stream to recycling and composting.

Wildcats to be Part of PK Invitational Field in Portland | Villanova University
Wildcats to play three games over four days Thanksgiving weekend

NBA Wildcats

Defensive Player Ladder: Mikal Bridges shines bright on NBA-leading Suns | NBA.com
Phoenix's Mikal Bridges climbs to No. 2 in the latest ranking as Memphis' Jaren Jackson Jr. also joins the group.

Kyle Lowry has a Gift: Elevating Others | Five Reasons Sports Network
It’s one thing to elevate a young group of guys that need that a clear leader above them, as he did for guys like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, etc. But it’s another thing to elevate a proven player in this league who is a 6 time all star, in Jimmy Butler, and a young buck on the trajectory of an elite player in this league, in Bam Adebayo.

Why Josh Hart Fits with the Trail Blazers | Blazer's Edge
How excited should Portland fans be about their new wing? For now, very.

Villanova Women’s Basketball

MADDY SIEGRIST NAMED USBWA NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK | Villanova University
INDIANAPOLIS – The Villanova University women's basketball team and junior forward Maddy Siegrist (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) have both been honored by the USBWA (United

Villanova Football

The Denver Broncos Announced 3 More Coaching Hires | The Spun
New Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett continues to fill out his coaching staff. The team announced three more hires today.

Villanova Athletics

Women’s Lacrosse to Face Philly Rival No. 22 Temple Wednesday | Villanova University
Philadelphia, Pa. – Villanova will travel to North Broad Street Wednesday night to face No. 22 Temple. The Owls come into the contest 1-0 after beating Army on Saturday,

Wilkinson and Hale earn D1Baseball Preseason Accolades | Villanova University
VILLANOVA, Pa.- Junior pitcher Danny Wilkinson and freshman outfielder/pitcher Connor Hale each earned preseason honors from D1 Baseball just days before opening