In just five nights, former Baylor Bears forward Freddie Gillespie has impressed the Toronto Raptors on the floor and their fans on social media.
Gillespie made his debut with the Raptors on April 10 in a road game at Cleveland. The Raptors won the game, with Gillespie pulling down six points and four rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
After playing less than nine minutes against the New York Knicks on April 11, he and the Raptors returned ‘home’ to Tampa, Florida, for a day off and another set of back-to-back games. The Raptors have played their home games in Tampa this season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada.
On April 13, the Raptors hosted the Atlanta Hawks. Gillespie played just 11 minutes in that game. He had just four points and a rebound. But his hustle drew notice on Twitter.
Yes, that’s the former Baylor forward blocking a shot, saving the ball to start a fast break, and then beating basically everyone else up the floor to get into position to rebound.
On April 14, Gillespie had his best night in the NBA to this point, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds in nearly 19 minutes in a win over the San Antonio Spurs. Two of those points came from great positioning underneath the basket, which led to a dunk.
Later, Gillespie met a Spurs player at the basket and that was the end of that drive. His blocked shot led to a fast break and Raptors basket on the other end.
The 6-foot-9 Gillespie is making his way in the NBA the hard way. Undrafted out of Baylor, Gillespie played 15 games in the G League’s Orlando Bubble, averaging 10.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, numbers that impressed his team’s parent NBA club, Toronto. The Raptors signed him to a 10-day contract on April 9. Gillespie can sign one more 10-day contract before the Raptors have to decide whether to release him or sign him for the rest of the season.
Wednesday’s performance allowed Gillespie to earn some time with the Toronto media after the game, which at times proved to be a light-hearted conversation. Gillespie sure sounds like a player that would like to stick around for a while.
“I have heard a lot of good things about this organization and it is all true,” Gillespie said. “They are supporting and encouraging, they made it as easy as possible. It’s my first 10-day and they really made it seamless. It is like a real family atmosphere, honestly. Everyone has been real supportive of each other. They treat me like I’ve been here since Day 1 of training camp.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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