WACO, Texas — Freddie Gillespie's story is one of hope, perseverance and incredible work ethic.
He defied the odds by becoming one of the best players in the entire Big 12. Gillespie's college career might have ended but that doesn't mean his story is finished.
"It's almost surreal when I think about where I came from," said Gillespie. "I think about how much further I want to go."
Gillespie went from Division III Carlton College to a walk on at Baylor University. He eventually earned a scholarship and becomes one of the best defensive players in the Big 12.
"Despite what my reality was at that time and what maybe others saw, everyday I have to believe this is something that can happen, despite what it might look like now," said Gillespie.
In high school and at Carleton College, Freddie wore the jersey number 55 because he felt the sky was the limit. When Gillespie transferred to Baylor, he wore the number 33 in honor of Scottie Pippen, who was also a former Division One walk on at Central Arkansas.
"I always thought he was undervalued and underrated," said Gillespie. "When I found that out, it gave me some motivation and inspiration and looking at his story helped me with my year. After that year, I told coach I wanted to go to 33 and pay homage to that."
Since the college basketball season ended, Gillespie was named Big 12 Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Most Improved Player. He is hoping to add another trophy to his collection, Big 12 Athlete of the Year.
"There's a lot of great candidates that could of represented Baylor for that award but I'm happy and its an honor and privileged to be the one that they went with," said Gillespie.
Gillespie has now focused his attention to getting prepared for next month's NBA draft.
"I had a lot of ideas of what the draft might look like before this pandemic but none of that happened and that's fine," said Gillespie. "Being adaptable. That's the biggest thing I've found. Sometimes the dates are fluid. You don't know where you might end up, what might happen, what might not happen and be ready for any situation."
Gillespie has talked with 11 NBA teams. He says different teams have asked different questions, but one in particular asked Freddie which marvel superhero he identified with.
"I chose Captain America," said Gillespie. "If you watched the movie, he had the passion, he had the heart but didn't quite have the skill and size to match his passion, heart and his character. Then he goes and still trains in the military and has the machine that gets all muscled and then he becomes elite. He becomes the apex human."
Gillespie is currently projected as a late 2nd round pick.
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