Leon Gilmore III decided to continue his basketball career at Creighton, but the hardwood wasn't the only thing on Gilmore's mind when he made that decision.
"I felt like at Creighton, I can start a new life out there and basically get more focused" the Manvel High senior said. "It's a very small university, and I'll be able to focus on school. And a very good basketball program… I feel like they can develop me the most."
Gilmore committed to Creighton in late September after enjoying an official visit to Omaha earlier in the fall. Since committing, Gilmore has enjoyed a quiet end to the recruitment process. Instead of fielding calls from coaches across the country each night, Gilmore has more time to focus on school, basketball and being a high school senior.
"It felt really good," Gilmore said of signing his National Letter of Intent. "I guess it was just a happy moment for me and my family that I'm getting a chance to go to school and play at the next level.
Gilmore has a versatile game that could see him play multiple roles at the next level. He spent the summer playing with a loaded Houston Hoops AAU squad that featured North Carolina signee Justin Jackson, Duke commit Justise Winslow and Kansas commit Kelly Oubre Jr..
Gilmore now sets his sights on leading Manvel to a state championship. The Mavricks opened the year with a loss, but have rattled off seven straight wins, four of which came on their way to a championship in the Woodlands Tournament. The future Bluejay was named the MVP of the event. If Manvel is to accomplish the goal of a state title, the Mavs will lean heavily on the 6-foot-7 guard/forward. The leadership role is not something that worries Gilmore.
"I try to make everyone more involved in the game," said Gilmore. "They just look to me to hit all the big shots and tell them what's right and wrong on the floor."
Thus far in his high school season, Gilmore has been relied on to shoulder much of his team's scoring and rebounding load, averaging 18.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in Texas's largest class according to MaxPreps. Even though he's shown a strong ability to hit the glass in high school, Gilmore isn't necesarrily destined for the post at the next level because of his high skill level on the perimeter.
"Leon is a versatile player that can pass, handle and shoot the basketball," Coach McDermott said. "His length and athletic ability will allow us to play him at several positions. He competes on both ends of the floor and has tremendous potential."
Free throw shooting is one of Gilmore's weaknesses, shooting 48 percent from the line thus far in his senior season. In addition to his stroke from the line, Gilmore mentioned he is also working to improve his non-dominant right hand and conditioning.
Ronnie Harrell, of Denver East, joins Gilmore as the two signees in Creighton's 2014 recruiting class. Coach Greg McDermott is pleased with what both young men will bring to the program on and off the court.
"They both exemplify the qualities that we looked for as we move forward into the BIG EAST Conference. Each young man comes from a tremendous family, possesses high level of character, and is a quality student-athlete that compete for well-respected High School basketball programs," said McDermott. "We expect them to be tremendous ambassadors to the mission of Creighton University and to carry on the great tradition that the Creighton Nation has come to enjoy as we move forward to the BIG EAST Conference."
Gilmore Leading Manvel, Preparing for CU
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