Collin Gillespie: Villanova’s Hidden Gem

Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography

By David Cordova

For many, many years, the Villanova Wildcats have a long lineage of point guards lead them to greater heights. Guards like Allan Ray, Randy Foye, Scottie Reynolds, Maalik Wayns, Ryan Arcidiacono, Kyle Lowry and most recently, Jalen Brunson, were all floor generals that made an impact during their time on the Main Line.

Now, there’s one current Wildcat that has waited his turn and plans to make noise this upcoming season. The player’s name is none other than Collin Gillespie.

Gillespie, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, is a player who is from the Northeast section of Philadelphia, has come a long way from his humble beginnings at Archbishop Wood High School, and plans to draw some attention after being a hidden gem for so long.

When asked what motivates him on the court, he replied, “Just getting to the next level. Focusing right now, on this team, becoming a leader, playing my role this year, growing as a leader, helping the freshmen out, and just becoming an all-around basketball player.”

Gillespie attempts to shoot a three from the outside. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

His thoughts on the basketball culture in Philadelphia, were: “It’s a great culture. I mean, when I was younger, I used to go around playgrounds, play all over the place, and as I got older, I mean, you go and find anywhere to play, really, with all [of] the guys in Philly. This past summer, I mean, I could play with Da-Da [Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree], we’d go to Imhotep, play in open gym runs with all of the Philly guys, so that’s always good, just to have that. I think, when you’re from Philly, you have a tight-bond with all of the Philly guys, we just link up and play whenever.”

Gillespie played his high school ball at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pennyslvania. He was one of the best players in the Philadelphia Catholic League and the biggest scoring option for the Vikings.

“Archbishop Wood was a lot of fun. I think I grew a lot over my four years there.” said Gillespie of his days at the school. “I played two sports my first two years, and then I had to stop, to focus more on basketball, but I think growing a lot and learning a lot about the game in my senior year, wanting to get to the next level and finally getting here is definitely a change, but my Archbishop Wood days were a lot of fun.”

Going into his senior season, Gillespie didn’t have a single scholarship offer, but that changed after his play in AAU tournament with Team Final, a Nike-sponsored program from the Philadelphia area, in which he garnered offers from Rider, Hofstra and ultimately, Villanova.

Gillespie during his senior season at Archbishop Wood with his high school coach, John Mosco, after the Vikings won the Philadelphia Catholic League championship. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

As a senior, he averaged 24.1 points per game for the Vikings, and led them to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship and also a PIAA Class 5A state title. Along the way, he led Wood to two victories against Neumann-Goretti, which featured his future Villanova teammate, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and McDonald’s All-American Quade Green, who is now entering his sophomore season at Kentucky. For his efforts, he was also named the Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Catholic League Player of the Year.

As far as the offer from Villanova, he committed in January 2017. When asked how he felt about receiving the offer and what led him to come to the Wildcats, Gillespie replied, “I just decided, when I came here [on his visit], I loved the culture, the family aspect of it, I felt like I was already at home when I was on campus, when I came here, the guys were real welcoming, the coaches were great. It felt like home to me, it was like a second home.”

Last season as a freshman, he missed a month with an fractured left hand, but adjusted to his role on the Wildcats, as he averaged 4.3 points per game, as Villanova went 36-4, won the Big East championship and the program’s third national championship in school history.

Gillespie cuts down the nets at the Palestra after helping Archbishop Wood win the Philadelphia Catholic League championship during senior season. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

When asked about how he felt about being a part of squad that won a national championship, he replied, “That was great. Learning from those guys was huge for me, having Jalen [Brunson], Donte [DiVincenzo], Mikel [Bridges], Omari [Spellman], all of those guys, they were great for my development, my growth as a leader and a player, so just learning from them and being a part of that team was huge for me.”

Now that Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo have gone on to the NBA, it is now time for Gillespie to step up in the pecking order as the elder statesmen. He will also be battling with freshman Jahvon Quinerly for a chance at the starting point guard position.

“Definitely working on defense and working hard and playing for 40 minutes, and definitely can take things from his [Quinerly] game and he takes things from my game. I think we worry more about playing defense and playing hard and playing together,” said Gillespie of him and Quinerly.

On the upcoming season: “I’m very excited for the upcoming season, young group of guys, I’m excited to grow with them throughout the season and see where we end up. We got a good group of guys here, just try to grow as much as possible and just worry about the season.”

Now, after a year under his belt, you can bet that Collin Gillespie will continue to grow as a player and as a leader. It wasn’t too long ago that he had no offers and was the hungry kid trying to be noticed. The hard work that he has put in is what has made him the player he is today.

Highlights of Collin Gillespie:

Courtesy of 8Eye Media/Jaime Boyer.

Courtesy of BLF Sports.

Courtesy of 8Eye Media/Jaime Boyer.

Courtesy of BLF Sports.

Courtesy of Big East Conference/Fox Sports.

Courtesy of Penn Live.

Courtesy of 8Eye Media/Jaime Boyer.

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