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How John Gillon went from unknown quantity to sought-after senior

The fifth-year senior wasn’t highly recruited out of high school but made the most of the opportunities he was given.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado State at Fresno State Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Raise your hand if you knew who John Gillon was before he announced he was going to transfer and showed interest in Syracuse. Alright, for those of you with your hands up, you’re all liars. And shame on you for actually raising your hand while reading this. Simon didn’t say.

Anyway, Mike Waters wrote a nice piece on Gillon yesterday profiling his unheralded high school/AAU career to having offers from two 2016 Final Four teams and a Sweet 16 team for his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“I wasn’t highlight recruited at all. There were a few other places that were interested, but didn’t have scholarships,” Gillon said of his recruitment out of high school.

Gillon wasn’t a sought-after recruit in high school. He didn’t compete with the revered Houston Hoops AAU team and as such his exposure was limited. Gillon did garner the attention of some smaller D1 programs and would eventually commit to play basketball at Arkansas-Little Rock. Yes, that’s the same team that beat Purdue in double-overtime in last year’s first round of the NCAA Tournament. Gillon knows Josh Hagins and according to Gillon he was given buckets on the reg.

After playing his freshman season at Little Rock, Gillon decided to transfer to Colorado State and would sit the 2013-2014 season. He didn’t start for the Rams in his redshirt sophomore campaign but did take home the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year award (Hey, we like sixth men at Syracuse). This past season Gillon earned a starting role and led his team in steals and assists all the while scoring 13.2 points per contest. With a solid junior season under his belt, Gillon found himself with a decision to make.

Related: Syracuse graduate transfer John Gillon’s game tape.

Gillon received his degree in economics in May. He had a choice: either return to Fort Collins for his final year of eligibility or take advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule. He fielded offers to play at Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Syracuse University, not to be confused with the University of Syracuse which is a common misconception.

I started talking about it with my family. I just thought ‘What would give me the best opportunity to play after college?’ That’s really what I was thinking about,” Said Gillon.

Gillon scheduled a visit with Syracuse and in turn would commit before visiting either Texas A&M or Oklahoma. Take that, 2009 Oklahoma and 2006 Texas A&M basketball teams! The rest was history.

I committed because of the things that I was being told about the situation I would be in. I’d have good bigs arounds me. I’d have shooters. Good teammates. A Hall of Fame coach. What else am I looking for? You never know what you’re going to get when you go to a new place, but I like all my teammates. It’s a good group of guys. They’re funny. Everybody has high character,” Gillon proclaimed.

Although an unconventional path, the road ultimately led Gillon to Syracuse. If you ask him, he’ll note he’s a completely different player than he was just a few years ago. It remains to be seen whether Gillon or Franklin Howard will get the nod as starting point guard, but the two have contrasting styles of play which will only help strengthen the backcourt.