Villanova signee, Collin Gillespie scored 24 points (on 7-15 field goals, 3-8 3PFG, and 7-8 FT) to pace "Just Clean It" in a losing effort against Team Philly this evening in Conshohocken at a packed Fellowship House. Daron Russell played a strong game for Team Philly - using his quickness and some streaky shooting to get Team Philly out of the gate quickly and to key a couple of late scoring spurts. His speed bothered Gillespie at times ... but at other times Gillespie used his strength and moxie to get baskets over and around Russell.
In addition to his 24 points, Gillespie dished out 10 assists, pulled down 9 rebounds, grabbed a steal and committed 4 turnovers.
The match-up between Gillespie and Russell was an interesting one to observe. Russell came out early looking like he had something to prove - draining several three-balls and scoring on a couple of quick-burst drives to the cup. Gillespie, despite having been throwing down dunks in the lay-up line and draining threes in warm-ups, took some time to heat up. He was more content to set up his teammates and keep everyone involved in the offense. This proved for some time to be a good tactic as his wings were draining treys with some consistency and his big were getting some good looks around the basket. Gillespie was a bit more aggressive looking for his own shots in the second half as he helped push Just Clean It to a late lead - after the lead changed hands again and his team fell behind by two with a minute and change left, Gillespie looked to put his team back ahead with a bit of a deep three-ball attempt but it just spun out and Team Philly took control down the stretch.
On offense, it was Gillespie's passing that stood out the most in this game. He made good outlet passes, found teammates in transition and threaded the needle on an array of passes to the low post. He made a great left-handed bounce pass to a cutter in the first half to create any easy lay-up and several great passes in the second half. His handle can at times get a little high and he struggled a couple times in this game with having the ball slapped by the quick hands of Daron Russell and others reaching from behind to pop the ball loose on Gillespie. Though he was generally strong with the ball and the court is a bit of a tight one (a less than regulation sized court with less space for players to operate), it is fair to assess that Gillespie needs to improve his handle a touch before taking over primary point guard duties at the high major level.
In terms of shooting stroke, Gillespie has a very solid foundation - he gets square and has a nice release - he should be able to knock down the three-ball at the college level when he gets time and space. Additionally, he can finish around the rim - including through contact.
Gillespie has good athleticism, strength and quickness - all are sufficient to compete at the next level. He has good leaping ability when on the run but doesn't have great bounce from a stand-still position.
Perhaps the most common question people have in terms of projecting Collin Gillespie at the collegiate level is with his ability to defend. Russell was a good litmus test for his ability to guard quicker point guards. Gillespie fared okay but has room to improve. He appeared to be trying to maintain the edge and prevent Russell from turning the corner on him by facing more sideline to sideline instead of squaring up against Russell defensively all the time. This technique helped him to maintain contact with Russell more effectively but against a guard that is more of a threat to go both ways, it could be a questionable practice. Over time, Gillespie will likely improve with his ability to turn his man more effectively and move his feet quickly enough to make dribble penetration around him more difficult to achieve. On a positive note defensively, Gillespie doesn't shy away from contact and mixes it up on the boards and in the pain when he needs to.