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Magazine excerpt: Inside the Shell

TurtleSportsReport.com editor (and occasional Recruiting Report contributor) Jeff Ermann is set to launch Inside the Shell, a new magazine covering Maryland athletics, in mid-December. Ermann was nice enough to forward an excerpt from a feature piece in the inaugural issue.

The subject is Maryland basketball commitment Gus Gilchrist and the author of the piece is TurtleSportsReport.com's Seth Hoffman.

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Gilchrist was a 6-foot-4 13-year-old who hadn't played organized basketball. He'd played pick-up and shot hoops in his backyard. His game was raw and he got hurt a lot because he didn't properly train his ever-sprouting body. During a growth spurt during his freshman year that ended with him standing 6-foot-7, he had trouble with his back and hamstring.

"I worked hard," Gilchrist says, "but I just didn't necessarily have somebody to show me the tools to get better."

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For the most part, though, he was still under the radar when he signed with Virginia Tech in November of 2006. He'd transferred for his senior year to Progressive Christian Academy in Temple Hills, Md., where Woody coached, to gain more exposure by playing against top teams from around the country. Home-schooled for much of the year because of Progressive's NCAA accreditation issues, Gilchrist's stock exploded - he averaged nearly 30 points a game and his name shot up the national rankings.

After the mass shootings on the Virginia Tech campus in April of 2007, Gilchrist said he was rethinking his decision. Speculation swirled that Gilchrist was using the shootings as an excuse for changing his mind about Virginia Tech, that perhaps his relationship with the Tech staff had soured. Sources close to the situation said Hokies coach Seth Greenberg was infuriated; his staff, after all, had identified Gilchrist as a big-time prospect before anyone else and worked quickly to secure his commitment.

Hokie fans were doubly upset by the loss of a potential star and the fresh emotional wounds left by the killings. They also feared his highly-publicized de-commitment could plant a seed in the minds of many other recruits, both for football and basketball.

Internet message boards were filled with bile from Virginia Tech fans, directed at Gilchrist.

"I don't hope he tears his ACL, but I hope he has something else bad happen to him. I was pretty heated hearing what he had to say as far as his reasons for de-committing. Pretty cowardly in my opinion," wrote one Virginia Tech fan.

"You have got to be kidding me," posted another. "He used the worst shooting in United States History to back out of a binding agreement. Karma is gonna be hell to pay for that kid."

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