Gill Plays Pickup With The Heels

Anton Gill was admittedly nervous. Playing on the Dean E. Smith Center floor was a unique experience, let alone doing so without fans, coaches, teammates or family members present.

On an unofficial visit to UNC this past Saturday, Gill got his first taste of the legendary summer pickup games in Chapel Hill.

"That first game, I was a little messed up," said Gill. "But, after you run up the court a few times, you realize it's still basketball. It was challenging and hard, but it was definitely fun at the same time."

Gill played on the same team as UNC's Kendall Marshall, Reggie Bullock, Justin Watts and Tyler Zeller. The rest of the Tar Heel roster, as well as former UNC point guard Raymond Felton, former NCSU forward Josh Powell and 2012 UNC recruit Brice Johnson, also played in the games.

"I think I played pretty well actually," he said. "I knocked down a couple of jump shots, got some assists and a made couple of layups. Once I settled down and realized it was just basketball I played pretty well and did a good job."

Gill said a couple of players stood out to him.

"It was great playing with Kendall Marshall," he said. "All I had to do was run the floor and I got the ball where I wanted it. He makes it so easy to play -- he's a great passer."

Of Johnson, Gill commented: "He looked great to me. He's long, athletic and he looked pretty good offensively. He played well, but it was kind of tough on him because he was down there inside with Tyler Zeller and James McAdoo."

Saturday's visit was the fourth visit to UNC in the last year for the 6-foot-2, 165-pound shooting guard from Raleigh (N.C.) Ravenscroft. He attended a football game last fall, was on hand for UNC's 78-64 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 15 and dropped by Chapel Hill again in the spring.

Escorted by his grandfather, Gill toured the Carolina Basketball Museum and the players' lounge and locker room before meeting with the UNC coaching staff.

"I had a great conversation with the coaches -- we're trying to build a relationship," Gill said. "That's something I'm really big on. Whatever school you choose, you have to be comfortable there."

The conversation included the summer AAU circuit, the coming high school season and off-season workouts. Gill plays on the Garner Roads 16U team with UNC commitment Isaiah Hicks.

"They said I played well and they knew I was hurt and still trying to get back," said Gill of his summer-circuit performance. "They said we played well as a team and we did really well making it to a national championship game. They said I did a good job and I was pretty happy with that."

The highlight of the visit for Gill was talking with UNC head coach Roy Williams.

"At first, I was kind of nervous talking to him," explained Gill. "He seemed like a really nice guy, someone that's real genuine. He was straight up with me and he was good to talk to. We were just chatting, talking about different things that weren't all related to basketball. He was really straight to the point and that's something I like about people, especially coaches."

Williams told Gill that the UNC staff would continue to watch him and asked him to be patient with his decision.

Gill plans to make his college choice at the end of his junior year of high school, just before the summer AAU events begin. He has offers from East Carolina, UNC-Charlotte, Louisville, Wake Forest, Miami, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Xavier and Rutgers.

Along with his relationship with the coaches, Gill said style of play and academics will also be factors in picking a school. During the fall he plans to visit Louisville, Xavier, Miami (Sept. 17) and a return trip to UNC for a football game.

On the next visit to Carolina, Gill will likely be accompanied by Hicks. While Hicks hasn't begun recruiting him to UNC, Gill said the two have talked about attending the same school.

"Isaiah is a great guy and a great teammate, I was so happy for him when he was able to make his decision," he said. "He made his dream come true and we definitely talk about it (playing together) a lot."

Gill said he grew up a UNC fan and that an offer from the Tar Heels would definitely impact his college decision.

"They have a great tradition with great players," he said. "It's close to home, but not too close to home. I like how good they are and I like their style of play. If there is a time when Carolina offered, they'd definitely be one of my top schools."

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