On Wednesday, the news of Freddie Gillespie signing a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors became official.
Can't have enough, Freddies. @freddieg_33 🖋️ » https://t.co/6HQTUHweUd pic.twitter.com/zFHldUgP4K- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2021
Gillespie's signing is the latest chapter of an amazing story that goes from Division III Carleton College to Division I Baylor University to the NBA G League and now, to a Raptors team that is fighting for a postseason spot as the 2020-21 NBA season winds down.
D-lll 👉🏽 D-1 👉🏽 G League 👉🏽 NBA- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2021
Earned this one, @freddieg_33 pic.twitter.com/NCJEWs3Ynb
Thursday, as the team prepared to take on the Denver Nuggets to open a four-game road trip, Gillespie spoke with reporters about the latest step in his career.
FAST FACTS: Get to know Freddie Gillespie
"It's a privilege," the 23-year-old said of earning a multi-year deal. "It's one of the most esteemed fraternities in the world, you know there are 450 players that get to do this so just to be able to be one of them at this moment and to be able to get this opportunity is amazing."
Gillespie has made the most of his opportunity and then some, initially joining Toronto on a 10-day contract on April 8. In his first appearance in a Raptors uniform, which was also his NBA debut, the big man scored six points, pulled down four rebounds and snagged three steals in 18 minutes of action.
In the nine games since, Gillespie has posted averages of 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds, scoring 10 points on two separate occasions.
While his contract is not guaranteed for the 2021-22 season, Gillespie will have an opportunity to work under arguably the league's best developmental staff during the offseason, a fact that he expressed his excitement about: "I'm ecstatic, honestly … I'm always trying to grow and get better and improve myself and I want to be around people that can help me do that."
He continued, adding that a big part of his development has also come from the mentality and approach of the veterans that he calls teammates.
"Just being here these 20 days - looking at the way that Kyle Lowry conducts himself and how he works on himself and how seriously he takes his craft and Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam and OG (Anunoby) - just watching those guys and how they carry themselves and the work that they continue to put in to improve themselves. Even just seeing that has been beneficial."
Gillespie's path to the league shows that he is a quick learner and still has plenty of room for growth and development, a fact that should excite both the Raptors organization and fans. Speaking of the fans, Gillespie also expressed his excitement to play in front of fans at Scotiabank Arena in the future.
"Everyone has always said that the fan base is just different, it's almost like a college fan base … that kind of excitement and hype - I'm looking forward to it."
Based on his performance as a player - and dancer - it's safe to say "New Freddie" is already a fan favourite.
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