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Villanova Basketball 2018 Season Recap: Collin Gillespie

A look at “Arch 2.0,” Gillespie was once highly coveted at the Division II level. Now, he’s a national champion.  

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Collin Gillespie’s Stats

2017-18 14.4 42-93 0.452 28-71 0.394 24-30 0.8 1.3 1.1 0.1 0.6 1.4 0.4 4.3

The Breakdown

For a while, it seemed like Collin Gillespie was surely going to be a Division II-level basketball player. An ankle injury left him sidelined for most of the crucial pre-senior year July recruiting period. However, he finished his high school senior season strong with PIAA Class 5A Player of the Year honors, an eye-popping 42-point performance against future teammate Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Neumann-Goretti, and a Philadelphia Catholic League title and a state championship.

His final season at nearby Archbishop Wood got the attention of a number of different Division I programs, including his eventual home, Villanova. Gillespie came in as the final piece of a recruiting class that included him, Cosby-Roundtree, and Jermaine Samuels. Coming in somewhat of an enigma, as the lowest-rated prospect of the three, Gillespie became a fan favorite for his local ties, hustle on the court, and his uncanny resemblance to another Pennsylvania product, Ryan Arcidiacono.

It was quite the freshman year for Gillespie, who not only proved he belonged on the court, but helped Villanova reach the pinnacle of college basketball once again. A few years earlier, he was considered a Division II player. Fast forward to this year’s Final Four, he buried one of Villanova’s many three-pointers in a record breaking performance against Kansas, and now he has a championship ring on his finger.

Gillespie appeared in 32 games, making one start. He led the freshmen in minutes, becoming a key fixture off the bench. His minutes unsurprisingly dropped a bit in the NCAA Tournament, as Jay Wright does favor veterans and more experienced players.

He wasn’t immune to the injury bug and was one of three Wildcats this season to suffer a hand injury, but he was back in time for his best game of the year--a loss to St. John’s--where he played a season-high 30 minutes and had 12 points, three rebounds, and three assists, with no turnovers. He was also 4-for-6 from deep.

Looking Ahead

With Jalen Brunson making the jump for the NBA--and possibly Donte DiVincenzo going with him (although it’s not definite)--Gillespie is due for an uptick in minutes. If DiVincenzo does decide to go, that leaves Gillespie and Phil Booth as the only returning point guards and facilitators. With five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly (Hackensack, N.J./Hudson Catholic) in the mix, his talent alone may put him immediately ahead of a more experienced Gillespie in the depth chart, but Gillespie will still play an important role--maybe even as the new “sixth starter.”

A full year in the Villanova Basketball program should provide a boost for Gillespie, as he takes his game to an even higher level. He seemed to have good habits this year, in regards to not forcing shots, taking good ones, and facilitating. There were definitely some rookie mistakes that come with the territory of growing pains, but his potential and promise are apparent. Regardless of where he is on the depth chart, expect Gillespie to build off of a solid freshman campaign and for him to thrive in more moments and opportunities. He might be Arch 2.0 to many, but be ready for Gillespie 2.0 next season.