Terps basketball player L.G. Gill talks about why he chose to transfer to Maryland, when he had more than 50 other college offers. (Baltimore Sun video)
COLLEGE PARK — In the days after he announced on Twitter his plans to leave Duquesne following graduation last summer, then-junior forward L.G. Gill became one of the most highly sought transfers in the country.
The number of schools and caliber of programs surprised Gill, who had come out of high school in Richmond, Va., with mostly mid-major offers and had put up respectable, though not eye-popping, numbers at Duquesne.
"For me it was kind of overwhelming," Gill recalled this week. "I knew I was going to get a handful of schools, but I had 52 schools on the list. It was finals, I was trying to study, but I had a million coaches calling me."
Gill said he was contacted by Maryland two days after his Twitter announcement, first by assistant coach Dustin Clark and eventually by coach Mark Turgeon.
Choosing the Terps over a number of high majors, including Marquette and Texas, the 6-8, 230-pound Gill was attracted to Maryland by a combination of history and opportunity. He and his teammates will have their first practice of the 2016-2017 season on Monday.
Gill was aware that Turgeon had used graduate transfers to build the program during his first five years — including Rasheed Sulaimon last season and Richaud Pack two years ago.
Turgeon saw some similarities between Gill and the other graduate transfers he had brought in.
"He does fit that profile — he's a smart kid, academics are important to him, but [he's] also trying to play at the highest level," Turgeon said this week. "We're asking the same things out of him that we asked out of Richaud and Rasheed: to be a good player, but be an upperclassman, be a leader. He's been through a lot. He's a very mature kid, so he's ready to do that."
Gill is projected to start at power forward for a team that lost four starters — including forwards Robert Carter Jr. and Jake Layman.
Gill is one of six new players, including five freshmen on scholarship, on a team that hopes to return to the NCAA tournament for the third straight year after last year's 27-9 team became the first at Maryland to reach the Sweet 16 since 2003.
"We're definitely pretty young, but our guys are pretty talented," Gill said, sitting in the press room at Xfinity Center on Tuesday. "As far as me, I'm going to bring the energy, the aggressiveness that this team needs as far as rebounding, just playing hard all the time."
Those who have seen Gill play in pickup games and individualized workouts say his effort and energy remind them of former Terp Jon Graham, though he is more skilled offensively. He is also more athletic around the rim than Carter or Diamond Stone, who left Maryland after his freshman season for the NBA draft.
Based on what he did as a junior at Duquesne, Gill could be thought of as a "stretch 4," a big man who likes to hang on the perimeter and take 3-pointers more than he likes to bang inside. More than half of his 285 shots last season were 3-pointers, and he made 34.4 percent of them.
But Gill, who is in the same online master's program that Pack finished while playing professionally in Cyprus last season, believes he will be a different type of player for Maryland this season.
"I'm definitely a different player than the stats showed," said Gill, who averaged 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and one assist while playing 30 minutes a game for the 17-17 Dukes. "Last year at Duquesne I shot a lot of 3's. I can step out and shoot the 3, but it's not something I want to continue to keep doing. ... I think I'll be able to show more of my versatility here."
Said Turgeon, "I think he fits our system perfectly. I think what I need him to be is a good basketball player, a complete basketball player, and that's what I told him I would help him be when I recruited him. We know he's a good player. We want him to push himself to limits he hasn't pushed himself to, becoming a better post defender, a low post scorer, a mid-range game, dribble the ball [more], things like that."
Gill said he spent most of his summer working on his post-up game, which is something the Terps will need after losing Stone and Carter. While Maryland often plays the same "four out, one in" offensive set that Gill played at Duquesne, he knows he will play more inside than before.
"It's always been a part of my game," he said. "Last year was very guard-oriented as far as our team, and the bigs were forced to set a lot of screens for the guards, and you didn't really get that many looks. As far as myself, I've been working on mid-range, post-up moves, just back-to-the-basket."
Charles Gill — who is called "Big Gill" to his son's "Little Gill" — believes his son is up to the challenge, pointing to the four years he spent at Benedictine College Preparatory, a Roman Catholic military high school in Richmond, as giving him the foundation for what might be in store at Maryland.
"He'll work hard in the gym every day to make his game better," said Gill, a retired Army staff sergeant who once owned a semi-pro team in the International Basketball League. "He'll do whatever is asked of him. I think Maryland is a great fit."
Gill knows he will be making a jump in competition from Duquesne to Maryland, from the Atlantic 10 to the Big Ten. Even before he knew he was joining the Terps, Gill said he watched a lot of Big Ten games on television, in part because one of his former high school teammates, Robert Johnson, plays at Indiana.
After playing for a Duquesne team that finally reached the postseason a year ago — losing in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational — Gill is looking forward to the possibility of fulfilling a goal of playing in the NCAA tournament.
"It's very exciting. The A-10 was a great conference, but this is the highest level of college basketball," Gill said.
*Gill's given name is Charles, but he has been called L.G. for "Little Gill" to distinguish between him and his father, who is also named Charles. His mother, Wanda, played basketball at Virginia Union.
*Career highs are 22 points against UMBC last season, when he made six of seven 3-point shots, and 14 rebounds against St. Joe's, in which he also had 14 points and one of three double-doubles he had last year.
*Interests outside basketball include reading, in particular sports biographies; he is currently reading a biography of former Baylor star Isaiah Austin. He also likes to fish and once caught a baby shark.
*Most interesting college experience was being on a bus ride back from George Mason last season during the massive snowstorm that shut down much of the East Coast. The team spent more than a day stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.