On April 28, Freddie Gillespie cemented his spot among the best basketball players in the world when he signed a two-year deal for the NBA minimum (around $900,000 per year). Gillespie, who hails from the Twin Cities suburb of Woodbury, played his first two years of college ball for the Knights. Gillespie got only 16 total minutes of action his freshman year before averaging 10 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks a game his sophomore year and earning Second Team all-MIAC.
Gillespie then decided to walk on at Baylor, where he averaged 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game and was named Big 12 Most Improved Player, Second Team All-Big 12 and named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Quite the jump for someone who rode the pine in a DIII program.
But Gillespie’s career has been defined by big jumps. After graduating from Baylor in 2019, he went undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft. He was later selected 2nd overall in the G League (the NBA’s development league) Draft by the Memphis Hustle, an affiliate of the Grizzlies.
Gillespie dominated the G League, posting 10.5 points a game, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 57 percent from the field and recording six double-doubles.
In April, Gillespie signed two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Toronto Raptors, and over the course of 14 games, he has put together a slew of impressive performances on both ends of the floor, including a five block outing in a stifling defensive showing against the Brooklyn Nets. On Sunday, he scored a career-high 11 points against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Gillespie has turned heads on the Raptors for his goofy personality off the court, including a rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” that he performed during his rookie initiation. Despite leaving Northfield after only two years, Gillespie appears to have held on to his Carleton quirks.
The Raptors, however, will need more from him beyond his falsetto. Toronto remains on the bubble of the NBA playoffs, and sits 27th in the league in defensive rebounding and 24th in offensive rebounding. Gillespie brings relief on the boards, as he is already averaging almost four rebounds in only 15 minutes of action per game.