Freddie Gillespie

2020/21 NBA G League Draft Results

The NBA G League held its draft for the 2020/21 season on Monday afternoon.

In a typical year, the G League draft lasts four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. However, this year’s draft was just three rounds and teams weren’t required to make any picks.

Because only 17 of 28 NBA G League affiliates (plus the G League Ignite) are participating in the revamped season at Walt Disney World in Florida, and because teams aren’t permitted to bring extra players to training camp for health and safety reasons, roster spots will be at a premium in the NBAGL this season, and the draft reflected that. Only 25 players were selected.

With the first overall pick, the Greensboro Swarm – the Hornets‘ affiliate – nabbed former Wizard Admiral Schofield. The 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Schofield averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 33 games (11.2 MPG) as a rookie before being traded to the Thunder during the offseason. Oklahoma City waived him last month.

With the second overall pick, which they acquired in a trade earlier in the day, the Memphis Hustle selected former Baylor standout Freddie Gillespie, who had been in camp with the Mavericks. Gillespie recently spoke to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors about his desire to make it to the NBA and his plans to begin his professional career in the G League. He’s now in position to suit up for the Grizzlies‘ affiliate.

Here are the full 2020/21 G League draft results:

Round One:

  1. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Admiral Schofield (Tennessee)
  2. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Freddie Gillespie (Baylor)
  3. Canton Charge (Cavaliers): Antonio Blakeney (LSU)
  4. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
  5. Lakeland Magic (Magic):  Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State)
  6. Canton Charge: Anthony Lamb (Vermont)
  7. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Zavier Simpson (Michigan)
  8. Lakeland Magic: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M)
  9. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Justin Patton (Creighton)
  10. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Armoni Brooks (Houston)
  11. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Kevon Harris (Stephen F. Austin)
  12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  13. Oklahoma City Blue: Vince Edwards (Purdue)
  14. Austin Spurs (Spurs): Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield)
  15. Raptors 905: Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
  16. Memphis Hustle: Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
  17. Iowa Wolves: Dakarai Tucker (Utah)
  18. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): No pick
  19. N/A

Round Two:

  1. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State)
  2. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Iowa Wolves: No pick
  5. Long Island Nets (Nets): No pick
  6. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Quincy McKnight (Seton Hall)
  8. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  9. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Selom Mawugbe (Azusa Pacific)
  10. Raptors 905: No pick
  11. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  12. Austin Spurs: Anthony Mathis (Oregon)
  13. Erie BayHawks (Pelicans): No pick
  14. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  15. Austin Spurs: Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown)
  16. Santa Cruz Warriors: No pick
  17. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  18. Oklahoma City Blue: Rob Edwards (Arizona State)
  19. Salt Lake City Stars: No pick

Round Three:

  1. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  2. Erie BayHawks: No pick
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Delaware Blue Coats: Braxton Key (Virginia)
  5. No picks from 43-57

The teams that didn’t make any picks will fill their rosters with affiliate players and returning rights players, meaning they didn’t need to draft anyone and/or didn’t have the open spots to do so.

As Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Blake Murphy of The Athletic noted (via Twitter), NBAGL teams overwhelmingly opted for youth, passing on most of the notable veteran NBA players in the draft pool. That group included Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, Emeka Okafor, and Shabazz Muhammad, among others.

Former Nets first-rounder Dzanan Musa removed his name from the draft pool before the event began, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Freddie Gillespie Looking To Complete Unconventional Journey To NBA

With the NBA moving forward on its plan to play the G League season at a single “bubble” site in Florida, several players are hoping to find opportunity in unconventional circumstances in the midst of a pandemic. But one player who intends to participate is no stranger to said unconventional opportunities.

Freddie Gillespie grew up in Woodbury, Minnesota, residing less than 30 minutes away from the Timberwolves’ arena, Target Center. While many kids dream of making the NBA, the vast majority see their hopes fade over time. But that wasn’t the case for Gillespie, a 23-year-old who carries one of the most unique stories in basketball.

The story goes like this: Gillespie, now 6’9″, entered high school at 5’11”. During his growth spurt, he decided to play basketball in his sophomore year. He rapidly improved in his first few seasons, making progress at both ends of the court, but suffered a torn ACL late in his junior year.

He returned the following season, but had lost some of his athleticism and didn’t receive a single Division I or Division II offer. Due to starting basketball late – and in conjunction with his injury – Gillespie decided to focus on academics, something his parents had emphasized throughout his childhood.

Gillespie, who still wanted to play basketball, chose to attend Division III Carleton College. It allowed him to pursue a prestigious degree, but also to play competitively, and his love of the game started to grow stronger.

“It was tough,” Gillespie told Hoops Rumors in a phone interview, explaining that he wasn’t deterred despite encountering a few naysayers. “It wasn’t motivating in terms of proving people wrong, it was more like, ‘Let’s just take a less conventional route then.’ I knew it would be tough, but I believe my relentless work ethic and mustard seed faith would open doors.”

Gillespie grew to 6’9″ with a 7’6″ wingspan during his freshman year in college, as he committed to growing his game in a way he never had before. It was clear that his athleticism had not only returned — it had strengthened. Along with it came an improved skill set, a higher basketball IQ, and an increased competitive drive.

“It was just hours and hours in the gym, watching film and being relentless with it,” Gillespie said. “Every day that I woke up, I dedicated most — if not all — of my day toward reaching these goals and becoming a better basketball player.”

Gillespie knew that in order to reach the NBA from a Division III program, he’d have to beat long odds. A handful of other pros have done it, including current Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson (Williams College). But Robinson eventually transferred to a Division I program. Gillespie realized what needed to happen after his sophomore season ended — his path was about to change again.

Al Nuness – a former collegiate player and close friend of Gillespie’s mother – managed to put Gillespie in touch with Baylor coach Scott Drew through his son, Jared Nuness, the team’s Director of Player Development. Gillespie then made the decision to attend Baylor as a walk-on and sit out the season due to NCAA rules for transfers. He cracked the team’s rotation during his junior season.

“You have a kid that had to overcome an injury, plus overcome not having the chance to really get a lot of minutes and play throughout his high school career,” Jared Nuness said. “He had to walk on and earn his way at Baylor. He lived and stayed in the gym every day, worked on his craft and things he needed to develop and improve on. So, as far as a player goes, he has an extremely high IQ and his work ethic is second to none.”

As a junior, Gillespie averaged just 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game over the course of 26 contests, but he was determined to improve, motivated by his long journey to get there. Those around the program tell stories of him playing guards one-on-one before or after practice in order to improve his lateral quickness.

Simply put, Gillespie was determined to take his game to another level in preparation for his senior season.

“When I first went to Baylor as a walk-on, they have all the players who won Big 12 awards and conference awards, and I told everybody: I’m going to be someone that wins multiple conference awards,” he said. “That’s going to be me as a player. That was in my mind when I first got there. It was a personal goal of mine.”

Gillespie went on to become a force, using several hours of training and film-watching to establish himself as a full-time starter for his final season. He anchored the team’s defense, increasing his averages to 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in the process.

“Baylor had a top-five defense in the nation and Freddie was the anchor,” Jared Nuness said. “He guarded 1-through-5, and at times, the opposing team’s best player. Not just the coaches, but the players looked for him to clean up any mistakes.”

Gillespie was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and the All-Big 12 Second Team, helping the Bears finish 26-4 while delivering on the promise he made when he first arrived at Baylor. He was also the Big 12 Most Improved Player, as well as the Big 12 Conference Male Academic Athlete of the Year, showing his dedication both on and off the floor.

When the season ended, it was clear Gillespie would receive consideration from NBA teams, so he hired representation and began shifting his focus to draft preparation. He stayed ready by doing what he knows best: training vigorously. He participated in open runs when available, including some offseason games that circulated on social media featuring Bam Adebayo, John Wall, Michael Beasley, and others.

Gillespie, who took part in the NBA’s revamped combine, estimates that he interviewed with over two-thirds of the league’s 30 teams during the pre-draft process. While he generated a good deal of interest, his future remained unclear when the draft began on November 18.

Multiple teams considered drafting Gillespie in the second round, he said, some of which expressed interest in using him as a draft-and-stash player. This would’ve required him to start his career overseas.

“I told them I respect the opportunity, but I want to bet on myself in the NBA,” he said. “I think I’d rather take my chances as an undrafted free agent. I think I’m an NBA talent.”

After going undrafted, Gillespie considered multiple offers and ultimately signed an Exhibit 10 (training camp) deal with the Mavericks. Like most Exhibit 10 recipients – who often join their team’s G League affiliate after spending the preseason on the NBA roster – Gillespie was waived when the Mavs finalized their regular-season roster ahead of last month’s deadline. However, Dallas will bypass the NBAGL bubble, as Hoops Rumors first reported, leaving Gillespie without a job for the immediate future.

“I try to get something out of every place I go to,” Gillespie said. “I know I want to go a certain way, but I just try to maximize my environment, maximize my resources and get the most out of every situation, no matter where that is. My mentality when things don’t go my way or I didn’t get the results I want, I’m like, okay — I know I put my best effort forward and tried to get something out of it.”

Agent Jerry Dianis, whom Gillespie recently hired when he changed representation, is confident in his client’s future, regardless of the short-term uncertainty.

“Freddie rebounds and plays defense with the exuberance of a child opening gifts on Christmas Day,” Dianis said. “He combines Hall-of-Fame character with relentless rebounding, defensive versatility, (and) the ability to set solid screens and finish ambidextrously at the rim. Just a tough glue guy that knows his role.”

His offensive game remains a work in progress, but Gillespie’s height (6’11” in sneakers), wingspan (7’6″), and 36.5-inch vertical give him the size and length necessary to play and defend multiple positions. Being named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team was no accident — Gillespie takes pride in his defense, studying the likes of Adebayo, Clint Capela and others.

“I remember when I was in high school, I would get upset when someone would even score on me at all,” he said, laughing. “My coach would always have to remind me that the game is literally designed for people to score. You just have to make them take tough shots. You can’t hold everybody to zero (points). But that was my mentality. At Baylor, my mindset was to be versatile on defense. So I was able to guard 1-through-5. Often times I was tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best frontcourt player, but being able to switch out onto all five positions is something that I focused on.

“This came by playing a lot of the guards one-on-one, working on my lateral quickness, my body, my base and my core to be able to guard the post. Working on reactivity so I can go block shots and play steals. All of the things like that. I knew I wanted to become a great defender. I wanted to be a guy that’s looked at as, ‘We could put him on the floor and he’s someone that could lock down the other team’s best player.’”

Despite his talent as a defender and rim protector, Gillespie understands he still has significant room to grow on both ends. Having graduated from college last year, he finds himself in a similar position to the one he faced on draft night: unsure of the journey that lies ahead.

The next step, he said, is working to earn a new opportunity that gets him closer to his goal of playing in the NBA. That may happen in the G League — he’s eligible to be selected in the NBAGL Draft on Monday, January 11.

“My focus is regrouping and going back out on the attack,” Gillespie said, explaining his mindset after being waived by Dallas. “As long as I’m still breathing, I think I got a chance at the NBA. Keep talking with my agent and develop a plan. Right now, the plan is to reach out to teams. I know they’re having a G League bubble. Right now, it’s train, train, train. Stay in shape. I’m ready for anything if the opportunity comes. I can say I’m in shape and I’ve been training. I can drop everything at the hat and be ready to play. So that’s one, always being ready.

“The second (focus) is strategizing, planning and seeing what happens in the G League bubble. I plan to participate in that and show teams I’m still the one to bet on. I think I’ve shown that at every place I’ve been at. I’m continuing to improve myself and get to a place where I can contribute to helping my team win.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lance Stephenson Among NBA Vets Eligible For G League Draft

As previously reported, the NBA G League’s 2020/21 draft will take place on Monday, January 11. And according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links), there will be some interesting names on the list of players eligible to be selected in that draft.

Veteran swingman Lance Stephenson, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor, and other recent NBA players like Justin Patton, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa, and Admiral Schofield will be part of the draft pool, per Givony. Former first-round picks Terrence Jones and Shabazz Muhammad will be draft-eligible as well.

According to Givony, the following players who have been on NBA rosters in the past are also among the G League’s other draft-eligible veterans: Kenny Wooten, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Ulis, Quincy Pondexter, Diamond Stone, Hollis Thompson, Cat Barber, Isaiah Briscoe, Phil Booth, Dusty Hannahs, Jemerrio Jones, Cory Jefferson, and Freddie Gillespie.

These, presumably, are players who have signed G League contracts but whose rights aren’t currently held by any teams. A player whose returning rights are controlled by a club participating in the G League’s bubble season wouldn’t be eligible to be drafted.

For instance, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that LiAngelo Ball has signed a contract to play in the bubble. Since the Oklahoma City Blue hold his returning rights and are playing in the bubble, Ball shouldn’t be in the general draft pool.

The Blue are one of 18 teams set to participate in the shortened bubble season, which is expected to take place at Walt Disney World. That list of teams can be found right here.

Givony previously reported that the G League is adjusting its roster rules for this season to make it easier for NBA teams to recruit and sign veterans with five or more years of NBA experience. Each NBAGL team will be able to designate an “NBA Vet Selection” who fits that bill and can sign that player directly without navigating the league’s complicated waiver process. My understanding is that those designated won’t be in the draft pool.

Mavericks Cut Freddie Gillespie, Devonte Patterson

The Mavericks have cut a pair of their training camp invitees, issuing a press release today announcing that forwards Freddie Gillespie and Devonte Patterson have been waived.

Both players are rookies who signed with Dallas after going undrafted last month. Gillespie played his college ball at Baylor, while Patterson came out of Prairie View. They saw limited action during the Mavericks’ preseason games.

Typically, Gillespie and Patterson would probably be on track to join the Texas Legends as G League affiliate players, but if Dallas’ NBAGL team doesn’t participate in the proposed bubble this season, that won’t be an option for the duo.

The Mavericks are now carrying 18 players and will have to make one more cut to set their roster for the regular season. Courtney Lee, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, is expected to be the odd man out.

Mavericks Sign Nate Hinton, Freddie Gillespie

DECEMBER 1: The Mavericks have officially signed Hinton to his two-way contract, the club confirmed today (via Twitter). Gillespie’s deal is also official, per the Mavs (Twitter link).

NOVEMBER 19: The Mavericks have agreed to sign undrafted Houston shooting guard Nate Hinton to a two-way contract, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link).

Dallas has also reached a contract agreement with undrafted Baylor big man Freddie Gillespie, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Terms of Gillespie’s deal weren’t specified — he’ll either get the Mavs’ other two-way deal or come to a camp on a standard contract, perhaps with an Exhibit 10 clause.

Hinton and Gillespie both rank among ESPN’s top 20 prospects who didn’t get drafted on Wednesday night — Hinton at No. 4 and Gillespie at No. 19.

Hinton declared for the draft after averaging 10.6 PPG and 8.7 RPG with a .387 3PT% as a sophomore in 2019/20. Gillespie, meanwhile, averaged 9.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in his senior season at Baylor, earning Big 12 All-Defense honors.

It was an eventful draft night for the Mavs, who also nabbed Josh Green, Tyrell Terry, and Tyler Bey, and sent Seth Curry to Philadelphia in a deal for Josh Richardson.

And-Ones: Edwards, Gillespie, Westphal, Williams

Georgia freshman guard Anthony Edwards is the lukewarm favorite to be chosen with the No. 1 overall pick this offseason but opinions about his game vary widely, as Sam Vecenie of The Athletic notes. In a poll of eight college coaches, some believe Edwards will be a perennial All-Star in the mold of Bradley Beal. One of the coaches that Vecenie spoke to believes he might be nothing more than an average role player. Edwards’ ability in pick-and-rolls makes him at least a top-five player in this class, Vecenie concludes.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Baylor power forward Freddie Gillespie has interviewed with half of the teams in the league, including his hometown Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Gillespie is considered a marginal second-round prospect. He’s currently ranked No. 73 overall by ESPN and 15th among players at his position.
  • Hall of Fame guard Paul Westphal has been diagnosed with brain cancer, former ESPN Sports Reporters host Mike Lupica tweets. The 69-year-old Westphal, who was inducted last year, also coached Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento after his playing career ended in 1984.
  • Victor Williams has been named CEO of NBA Africa, according to a league press release. Williams, an investment banking executive with extensive experience growing businesses across the U.S. and Africa, will be based in the league’s Johannesburg office. In this newly-created role, Williams will oversee the league’s basketball and business development initiatives in Africa.