It's Halloween. It's also just 13 days remaining until BASKETBALL! We're lucky that those two things coincide because #13 also happens to be the scariest of the Wahoo basketball players. Scariest, at least, for opposite defenses. That player is, of course, Anthony Gill.
You may think that Malcolm Brogdon is the scariest. Surely Brogdon will lead the team in scoring. But how scared can you be of a guy who plays like that old guy at the local YMCA? Gill is the guy who dunks everything. He's the guy who was among the national leaders in offensive rebound rate, despite playing for a coach who basically abhors offensive rebounds. And he's probably the most indispensible guy on the team this year. Plus, look at that picture. Scary!
You probably already know that Gill played a year at South Carolina before transferring following the departure of Darren Horn as coach of the Gamecocks. He had been a teammate of Akil Mitchell in HS and he decided to join his friend in Charlottesville.
After sitting for a year, Gill emerged as a force late in his sophomore season. Towards the end of the season, he started to get more playing time and responded with some big games for the Hoos. He had 12 and 7 against Duke in the ACC Final, 17 and 5 in the NCAA opener, then 13 and 8 against Memphis in the round of 32. He struggled in the loss to MSU, scoring just 3 points and grabbing just 1 rebound in 19 minutes. On the year, he averaged 8.6 ppg and 4 rpg. But his O-rating (roughly equal to points scored per 100 possessions) was 111.6 (which is very good) and he was among the nations leaders in FG% and fouls drawn. Despite averaging under 20 minutes per game, he led the team in FTs attempted, though he shot just 63% from the charity stripe.
After Mitchell's departure, Gill was expected to step into that role and take over games on the interior. He did not disappoint, as he upped his O-rating to 122.3 (53rd in the nation), continued to shoot the ball well and draw fouls as well as anybody in the country. But, perhaps more importantly for the Hoos, he also stepped up his game on the defensive side of the ball. He was named to the ACC All-Defense team (as well as third team All-ACC). He averaged 11.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg in about 25 minutes per game. Once again, he led the team in FTs attempted and upped his FT% to 68%. According to kenpom.com, Gill was the 7th most valuable player in the nation last year.
Coming into this, his senior season, Gill is going to be counted on for even more. With the departure of Justin Anderson, Gill will have to be a big part of making up for the 12 ppg that Justin provided. Furthermore, with the departure of Darion Atkins, Gill is going to be tasked with guarding the opposion's best interior scorer and grabbing some of the 6 rpg that Atkins corralled.
As mentioned, Gill is probably the most important player for the Hoos this year. Yes, Malcolm Brogdon is the best player on the team. And perhaps London Perrantes' play at PG (and most importantly, his outside shooting) may be more valuable. But the Hoos are deeper at the wing and PG positions with Devon Hall, Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson. But there isn't an obvious candidate to replicate what Gill brings to the table.
Mike Tobey provides some of the same interior scoring punch. But Tobey has trouble staying on the floor sometimes because of foul trouble. He also lacks the lateral quickness to guard some of the better interior players the Hoos will face, so he's often on the bench during crunch-time in favor of better defenders. Isaiah Wilkins has that quickness and looks like he could become a very good defender, but he doesn't have nearly the scoring prowess nor the strength to battle inside for rebounds. And right now we just don't know what to expect from Jared Reuter or Jack Salt.
Anthony Gill's 25 minutes per game last year will definitely go up. Early in the season, especially against some of the lesser teams, Tony Bennett will probably want to see more of the younger players. But once ACC play begins, depending on how those guys develop, Gill could be playing 35 minutes per game.
Gill was named 2nd team All-ACC in the preseason by the ACC media. But the additional playing time he's going to get coupled with a slightly higher number of possessions due to the shorter shot clock, Gill could very well come close to averaging a double-double. That would make him a shoe-in for first team All-ACC. If the Hoos are as good as expected and Gill has the kind of season Wahoo fans are hoping for, he could even push for national POY honors.
Position: Power Forward