For­ward L.G. Gill con­tin­ues tra­di­tion of grad­u­ate trans­fers

Highly sought player ready ‘to bring the en­ergy’ at UM

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — In the days af­ter he an­nounced on Twit­ter his plans to leave Duquesne af­ter grad­u­a­tion last sum­mer, then-ju­nior for­ward L.G. Gill be­came one of the most highly sought trans­fers in the coun­try.

The num­ber of schools and cal­iber of pro­grams sur­prised Gill, who had come out of high school in Rich­mond, Va., with mostly mid-ma­jor of­fers and had put up re­spectable, though not eye-pop­ping, num­bers at Duquesne.

“For me it was kind of over­whelm­ing,” Gill re­called this week. “I knew I was go­ing Xfin­ity Cen­ter, Oct. 14, 8 p.m. to get a hand­ful of schools, but I had 52 schools on the list. It was fi­nals, I was try­ing to study, but I had a mil­lion coaches call­ing me.”

Gill said he was con­tacted by Mary­land two days af­ter his Twit­ter an­nounce­ment, first by as­sis­tant coach Dustin Clark and even­tu­ally by coach Mark Tur­geon.

Choos­ing the Terps over a num­ber of high ma­jors, in­clud­ing Mar­quette and Texas, Gill, 6 feet 8, 230 pounds, was at­tracted to Mary­land by a com­bi­na­tion of his­tory and op­por­tu­nity. He and his team­mates will have their first prac­tice of the 2016-17 sea­son Mon­day.

Gill was aware that Tur­geon had used grad­u­ate trans­fers — in­clud­ing Rasheed Su­lai­mon last sea­son and Richaud Pack two years ago — to build the pro­gram dur­ing his first five years.

Tur­geon saw some sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Gill and the other grad­u­ate trans­fers he had brought in.

“He does fit that pro­file — he’s a smart kid, aca­demics are im­por­tant to him, but [he’s] also try­ing to play at the high­est level,” Tur­geon said this week. “We’re ask­ing the same things out of him that we asked out of Richaud and Rasheed: to be a good player, but be an up­per­class­man, be a leader.”

Gill is pro­jected to start at power for­ward for a team that lost four starters — in­clud­ing for­wards Robert Carter Jr. and Jake Lay­man.

Gill is one of six new play­ers, in­clud­ing five fresh­men on schol­ar­ship, on a team that hopes to re­turn to the NCAA tour­na­ment for the third straight year af­ter last year’s 27-9 team be­came the first at Mary­land to reach the Sweet 16 since 2003.

“We’re def­i­nitely pretty young, but our guys are pretty tal­ented,” Gill said, sit­ting in the press room at Xfin­ity Cen­ter on Tues­day. “As far as me, I’m go­ing to bring the en­ergy, the ag­gres­sive­ness that this team needs as far as re­bound­ing.”

Those who have seen Gill play in pickup games and in­di­vid­u­al­ized work­outs say his effort and en­ergy bring to mind former Terp Jon Graham, though he is more skilled of­fen­sively. He is also more ath­letic around the rim than Carter or Di­a­mond Stone, who left Mary­land af­ter his fresh­man sea­son for the NBA draft.

Based on what he did as a ju­nior at Duquesne, Gill could be thought of as a “stretch 4,” a big man who likes to hang on the perime­ter and take 3-point­ers more than he likes to com­pete in­side. More than half of his 285 shots last sea­son were 3-point­ers, and he made 34.4 per­cent of them.

But Gill, who is in the same on­line mas­ter’s pro­gram that Pack fin­ished while play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in Cyprus last sea­son, be­lieves he will be a dif­fer­ent type of player for Mary­land this sea­son.

“I’m def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent player than the stats showed,” said Gill, who av­er­aged 10.1 points, 6.5 re­bounds and one as­sist while play­ing 30 min­utes a game for the 17-17 Dukes. “Last year at Duquesne I shot a lot of 3’s. I can step out and shoot the 3, but it’s not some­thing I want to con­tinue to keep do­ing. I think I’ll be able to show more of my ver­sa­til­ity here.”

Said Tur­geon: “I think he fits our sys­tem per­fectly. I think what I need him to be is a good bas­ket­ball player, a com­plete bas­ket­ball player, and that’s what I told him I would help him be when I re­cruited him. We know he’s a good player. We want him L.G. Gill de­cided to leave Duquesne af­ter grad­u­a­tion last sum­mer. He chose the Terps over a num­ber of high ma­jors, in­clud­ing Mar­quette and Texas. “It’s very ex­cit­ing. The A-10 was a great con­fer­ence, but this is the high­est level of col­lege bas­ket­ball,” Gill said. to push him­self to lim­its he hasn’t pushed him­self to, be­com­ing a bet­ter post de­fender, a low post scorer, a mid-range game, drib­ble the ball [more], things like that.”

Gill said he spent most of his sum­mer work­ing on his post-up game, which is some­thing the Terps will need af­ter los­ing Stone and Carter. While Mary­land of­ten plays the same “four out, one in” of­fen­sive set that Gill played at Duquesne, he knows he will play more in­side than be­fore.

“It’s al­ways been a part of my game,” he said. “Last year was very guard-ori­ented as far as our team, and the bigs were forced to set a lot of screens for the guards, and you didn’t re­ally get that many looks. As far as my­self, I’ve been work­ing on mid-range, post-up moves, just back-to-the-bas­ket.”

Charles Gill — who is called “Big Gill” to his son’s “Lit­tle Gill” — be­lieves his son is up to the chal­lenge, point­ing to the four years he spent at Bene­dic­tine Col­lege Prepara­tory, a Ro­man Catholic mil­i­tary high school in Rich­mond, as giv­ing him the foun­da­tion for what might be in store at Mary­land.

“He’ll work hard in the gym ev­ery day to make his game bet­ter,” said the el­der Gill, a re­tired Army staff sergeant who once owned a semipro team in the In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball League. “He’ll do what­ever is asked of him. I think Mary­land is a great fit.”

Gill knows he will be mak­ing a jump in com­pe­ti­tion from Duquesne to Mary­land, from the At­lantic 10 to the Big Ten.

Af­ter play­ing for a Duquesne team that fi­nally reached the post­sea­son a year ago — los­ing in the sec­ond round of the Col­lege Bas­ket­ball In­vi­ta­tional — Gill is look­ing for­ward to the pos­si­bil­ity of ful­fill­ing a goal of play­ing in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

“It’s very ex­cit­ing. The A-10 was a great con­fer­ence, but this is the high­est level of col­lege bas­ket­ball,” Gill said.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

L.G. Gill, the Terps’ lat­est grad­u­ate trans­fer, is ex­pected to start at power for­ward. He and his team­mates will have their first prac­tice of the 2016-17 sea­son Mon­day.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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