This past weekend Jonathan Gilling and his parents visited Tempe and now that the ASU’s 2011 class addition has had his first up close and personal experience with the Sun Devil program, he couldn’t be more delighted with his career decision.
“It feels great to be part of Arizona State now,” said the 6-8 226 pound Gilling who signed his letter of intent with the Sun Devils. “I’m very happy it all worked out and it will be an awesome four years. When I met coach Sendek and coach Lamont (Smith) the first impression was very good and they treated me very nice.
“It (the visit) was as I expected it to be because when I talked to them on the phone before, they treated me and talked to me the same way when I met them (in-person). So it was a great first impression both on the telephone and in real life. ”
This past season Gilling played for a Danish team named Horsholm 79'ers. The forward paced his club with 15.2 ppg (averaging 51.6 percent shooting on two-point field goals), and posted averages of 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He shot 36.2 percent from beyond the arc but the three-point line in international competition is a just over a foot further than the NCAA one.
“The coaches told me that they like to play with a lot of three-point shooting,” Gilling commented. “They said I would fit in perfectly because I am also a good shooter and the three-point line here is closer than back home. So that shouldn’t be a problem for me. They like the fact that I can put the ball on the floor and pass.
“They like to play in transition and in a faster pace, and that’s probably the biggest thing I will have to get used to. But I think just like the coaches that I will fit in this style of play.”
The Weatherup center, ASU’s basketball practice facility, is a feature that often makes a deep impression on prospects visiting the Sun Devils, and this was certainly the case with Gilling as well.
“It was huge compared to what I was coming from back home,” Gilling admitted. “All the facilities I saw, Wells Fargo Arena…are much bigger than what I’m used to. The campus was huge and a little confusing because you are seeing everything (while riding) on a golf cart but the coaches said that once I get here for school I will be familiar with everything.
“I saw the campus tours on the Internet so nothing really surprised me about the campus. But it was nice to see everything in real life.”
Last year Gilling was toying with the idea of signing with a college in the United States while he prepped at Rungsted Gymnasium in Denmark. Last year he unofficially visited Michigan and Gonzaga but didn’t feel that those schools would suit him.
After graduating high school he joined the Horsholm 79'ers club. His head coach and the ASU staff had a mutual acquaintance which is when the recruiting process started with the forward a few months ago. Once the Sun Devil coaches viewed his highlight DVD the recruiting process intensified and Gilling was offered a scholarship by ASU and as mentioned he did accept that offer prior to visiting Tempe.
“It was always a dream for me to play college basketball in the United States,” Gilling explained. “I think it’s great that I can get an education and play basketball at the same time. In Europe I would have to play professionally and only go to college when I’m like 30 (years old) or get married first. That doesn’t work.
“Playing college in the United States is a great opportunity for me.”
Undoubtedly, Gilling’s transition from European basketball to the highest of level of NCAA basketball will be challenging. On the one hand, he does not believe that physicality will be an issue because he feels that as a 19-year old he more than held his own against adult players in Denmark, some in their mid and late 20’s. On the other hand, he’s cognizant of the fact that the pace of the game is likely to be much different than anything he has ever experienced.
“I know it’s going to be faster,” Gilling said of the tempo at the NCAA level, “but I think I can be ready for it. I know Rich (Wenner, the team’s strength and conditioning coach) and all the coaches will make me the best player I can be.”