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Villanova Basketball 2021-22 Player Recap: Collin Gillespie

The final chapter in Gillespie’s story completed the rise from a two-star high school prospect to a five-star floor general.

Villanova v Kansas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Collin Gillespie’s Career Stats

2017-18 VILL 32 1 14.4 1.3-2.9 45.2 0.9-2.2 39.4 0.8-0.9 80 0.1 1.2 1.3 1.1 0.1 0.6 1.4 0.4 4.3
2018-19 VILL 35 35 29.5 3.3-8.0 40.9 2.1-5.6 37.9 2.2-2.7 83.9 0.3 2 2.4 2.8 0.1 1.1 2.7 1.5 10.9
2019-20 VILL 31 31 34.1 5.0-12.3 40.6 2.3-6.3 35.7 2.9-3.5 81.7 0.2 3.5 3.7 4.5 0.1 1.2 2.3 1.9 15.1
2020-21 VILL 20 20 33.4 4.5-10.4 42.8 2.1-5.5 37.6 3.0-3.6 83.3 0.6 2.7 3.3 4.6 0 1 1.6 1.6 14
2021-22 VILL 38 38 34.2 4.9-11.4 43.4 3.0-7.2 41.5 2.8-3.1 90.5 0.4 3.4 3.8 3.2 0 1 1.9 1.7 15.6

The breakdown

Originally, it seemed like Collin Gillespie’s time at Villanova would unceremoniously come to a close, as a knee injury preemptively ended his senior season in a bittersweet win over Creighton on Senior Day. It was a big damper on an already challenging 2020-21 COVID-affected college basketball season.

While it seemed like the end, it was actually the start of a big comeback chapter in his career. Due to the pandemic, the NCAA opted to give all of its athletes a bonus year of eligibility and for seniors, that meant a second chance. Gillespie and his fellow classmates decided to take the NCAA up on their offer.

He was given a clean bill of health and cleared to participate in basketball activities midway through the summer and as the start of the season approached, everyone wondered how well he would be able to play after coming off of a scary injury.

Just as Gillespie had done throughout his entire career, it was another season of him raising the bar and shattering the mark.

He put together his best season yet, averaging a career-best 15.6 points on 43.4% shooting and a 41.5% clip from beyond the arc. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

With a campaign like that, he also raked in the accolades and awards. Gillespie was named the Bob Cousy Award winner, an accolade given to the nation’s top point guard. He also was the Big East’s best player on and off the court, as an outright award winner for the Big East Player of the Year and the conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year — becoming the first ever player to take home both titles in the same season.

He became Villanova’s first two-time Big East Player of the Year Award winner. He was also named an All-American and chosen as the Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year, and earned Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.

Gillespie finished his senior season with 113 made three-pointers, surpassing the record set by Allan Ray, who had 107. He also appeared in 156 games over the course of his five-year career, a record that may never be broken.

There were plenty of iconic moments and performances, but probably none bigger than leading the ‘Cats into the Dunkin Donuts Center and guiding them to victory over then-No. 8 Providence with a career-high 33 points, which included the dagger in the final minute.

He also played through an ankle injury for a stretch of the season, and delivered in clutch moments. Gillespie turned it up in the final minutes of the Big East Tournament finale against Creighton, and helped the ‘Cats return to the Final Four with a win over Houston.

Looking ahead

This final chapter in Gillespie’s five-year career solidified his spot in the pantheon of Villanova guards. He got to go out with a Final Four appearance and got to make trips there to bookend his career.

His journey and story is an impressive one. From being mostly on the Division II radar entering his senior year of high school, to capturing the attention of Villanova’s coaching staff with big-time performances, and making a name for himself.

Remember when it was said in jest how he was a long lost Arcidiacono? He broke out of those shadows and forged his own name, shattering many expectations and doubt that many had cast on him in the earlier years of his career.

Each year, he continued to elevate his game, rising from one of the best on the team, then in the conference, and now, the top point guard in college basketball.

There will be big shoes to fill next season, for whoever gets tasked with running the point. Gillespie will grind away through the offseason, and he’s already captured some attention at the NBA Combine.

Gillespie will be missed, and it’ll be interesting to see how his journey unfolds at the next level, but no matter what happens, Jay Wright put it best.

We’re going to be telling stories about him for a long time.