Gillispie is counting on that since Pilgrim is the first scholarship transfer player he's had. He's had walk-on players transfer into his program, but never a scholarship player.
"You probably should worry some about how a player will fit in when he is not playing, but I don't. He will definitely benefit from a year of practice. He has a great opportunity to practice against great players to continue to make himself a better player. But I don't take all those other things into consideration," Gillispie said. "I just know he is a very likable person. He does have a laid back personality until he steps on the court and then he's a very intense competitor. He competes extremely hard and that will continue to improve because he wants to do well."
Junior guard Jodie Meeks had a frustrating, injury-plagued year himself last season. He's not worried about Pilgrim having any adjustment problems this year, either.
"I didn't worry about that. We as a team call ourselves a family and we make people feel welcome. We don't want anybody feeling left out or wondering if they are welcomed or not, so we welcomed him immediately," Meeks said.
"He is a great guy. I think we all really like him. He is quiet, but once you get to know him he talks a lot. We all respect him. He has a great sense of humor. He is funny. He is always asking me and Pat (Patterson) what he has to do to get through practices and stuff like that. I didn't really know him until this past summer when I showed up for summer school. I had not heard of him, but the first time he stepped on the court he was playing well and we became real good friends after that. We definitely knew we needed him, and I am glad we have him. He started helping us in workouts immediately. He's a banger, but he can also shoot the mid-range shot or even the 3-point shot."
Auburn's Quantez Robertson, a Cincinnati native, didn't play high school basketball against Pilgrim, but he knew plenty about him long before he came to Kentucky. "I played with him when he would come out with his brother in the summer to play pickup with us. He was very confident and aggressive. He tries to do everything as hard as he can and play the best he can every play," Robertson said. "He was never afraid. At times he wouldn't take some shots, but he got out of that and now he is doing good things.
"I wouldn't say I kept up with him at Hampton, but I would talk to him over the Internet to see how he was doing and how his team was doing. I didn't know he was transferring to Kentucky until I saw it on TV. It was a shock to me because I knew he was doing pretty well at Hampton."