I got a little sidetracked over the last few days, so I apologize for not getting these out a little faster. The end of basketball season is usually the first break I get since the start of football in August and one of the only times things slow down around here.
I haven’t totally forgotten about our homework series though, and today it continues with a another junior who will return in 2022-23 as a starter.
Mason Gillis – Jr. (RS) in 2022-23
2020-21 Stats: 28 games, 23 starts. 22.2 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.3 apg, 46.5% FG%, 35.2% 3FG, 81.4% FT%
2021-22 Stats: 33 games, 25 starts. 23.5 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, 49.6% FG%, 41.4% 3FG, 85% FT%
Mason returns as Purdue’s most experienced starter in 2022-23 with 48 career starts in 61 games played. After missing his entire senior season at New Castle due to a knee injury and redshirting in his first year at Purdue he became an immediate contributor in 2020-21. More impressively, he shook off an offseason incident with the law that led to a four game suspension and loss of his starting spot to take it back in December and hold on to it for the rest of the year. He split much of his time with Caleb Furst and later on Ethan Morton at the four position, but finished the year as the starter and closer.
A large for that is his grit. Gillis is the perfect “Purdue” type player in that he does all of the little things and epitomizes what it means to play hard nosed Purdue basketball. He rebounds. He back cuts. He gets open threes. He hits free throws at a high percentage. He gets on the floor for loose balls. He sets screens. He gets back on defense. I cite 2020-21 a game at Michigan State. He didn’t score a single point in the game, but he tied up a loose ball that gave Purdue possessions for the game-winning basket by Trevion Williams, then he got back and disrupted Michigan State’s final desperation play defensively.
They need a grit of sandpaper called “Mason Gillis”.
He is basically a rich man’s Grady Eifert. Eifert was the perfect role player on the 2018-19 team, but we only got him for one year as a starter and significant contributor. We’re primed to get four years out of Gillis.
Gillis is a bit undersized as a power forward at 6’6”, 230 pounds, but he makes up for it in hustle. He is a perfect Little Things guy on both ends of the floor, and he had a productive year stretching the floor with his three-point shooting. For his career he is 55 of 141 from long range, so he is usually good for at least one three per game. This season his percentage jumped more than 6 points from long range, too. Gillis regularly got 2-3 open looks per game from long range, and when he hit them, Purdue generally did well. If he hits any of his three open threes vs. St. Peter’s we might have a Final Four banner right now. Still, he had a solid game against the Peacocks with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
You’re not often going to get an explosive scoring performance from Mason, but he is going to score with the opportunities he is given. His career high is only 14 points at Penn State this season, but it was not unheard of for him to score in double figures. Much like a Terone Johnson or a DJ Byrd, things aren’t great if he is your primary option, but he is excellent as a complimentary scorer.
Mason’s free throw shooting cannot be overlooked, either. As someone who is going to be around the basket and rebounding a lot, he is going to get to the line a fair amount. Among the regulars he was second on the team from the line at 85%, trailing on Sasha Stefanovic. He was a perfect 6 for 6 from the line against St. Peter’s. at 34 of 40 he wasn’t high on the volume of free throws, but he was effective when he was there.
I really don’t have any complaints about Mason’s game. His grit and hustle will keep him on the floor, and there is no question he is a contributor. I would love for him to be a little quicker defensively, but Purdue needs improvement from the entire team on that end of the floor. It is nice that you can pencil him in for 6-8 points, a few hustle plays that affect the outcome, and 5-7 rebounds per night and trust him to hit wide open threes. That is a luxury few teams have.