Purdue basketball is BACK tonight! We still have one more player to preview though, as he wears number 0.
Mason Gillis - So. (RS)
New Castle, IN (New Castle HS)
6’6”, 230 pounds
2021-22 Projection: possible starter
I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Mason last year. He had lost his senior season of high school to a knee injury and then redshirted in 2019-20. I think coach painter was thinking he could get an extra year from him because of Evan Boudreaux at the same position.
Gillis made the most of it though. He ended up starting 23 of the 28 games and averaging 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds. He was the consummate glue guy. He was solid at the free throw line. He did the “run, rebound, and defend” that Painter asks of his role guys. He showed a bit of a three-point shot (19 of 54) and did a little of everything. I loved the rapport he had with Trevion Williams, as he knew exactly when to cut to the basket for a nice pass from Tre.
One of the signature plays of the year for him was in the Michigan State game up in East Lansing. He didn’t score a point, but after Trevion Williams hit what would be the game-winner Mason parked himself in the middle of the defense as the Spartans desperately pushed the ball up floor. He disrupted the entire flow of the play and mat a tough shot almost impossible just with his defense. As big as Tre’s shot was, Mason’s defense was at least as huge.
Mason, unfortunately, enters the season under a cloud. After picking up an OWI over the summer he will be sitting the first four games of the year against Bellarmine, Indiana State, Wright State, and North Carolina. the first three are games Purdue should win handily, but I think sitting him he UNC game was a definite message. That’s the, “this is a tough game, and we are going to prove we can win without you if you don’t get it together,” message.
He also has to now fend off Caleb Furst and Trey Kaufman-Renn for minutes when he comes back. Just because he started last year doesn’t guarantee he will once he returns. Coach Painter is very clear he will have to earn his role. At minimum, he is another guy that provides experienced depth. At best, he earns his role back because he is the best player at that spot, fending off a couple of very good players in their own right.
It’s a good spot to be in.