Published Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 10:24 am
BASKETBALL
Creighton nets pledge from Rivals top 150 player Gilmore

Chemistry was one of the things that sold Leon Gilmore on Creighton during his recruiting visit to Omaha late last month.

Not the department. Instead, it was the relationship among the players that Gilmore valued.

“I was around those guys 24-7 when I was there,'' Gilmore said. “I hung out with them and saw how they lived. I ate with them. I didn't have one recruiting host because those guys all hung out together all the time.

“I feel like I have a good relationship with the guys on the team already.''

Gilmore, a 6-foot-7 wing player from Manvel, Texas, became the first commitment of Creighton's 2014 recruiting class on Monday.

Rivals.com lists Gilmore 121st on its list of the top 150 prospects. The recruiting website has him as a three-star player, as does Scout.com.

Gilmore reportedly had offers from Creighton, Houston, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Christian, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Nevada-Las Vegas. The Bluejays, Houston and Texas Tech were his finalists, and he picked Creighton after returning from a weekend visit to Texas Tech.

“I thought about it a lot last night and this morning, and just decided Creighton would be the best place for me,'' Gilmore said. “I had wanted to make the decision earlier, but I knew I had to wait until I visited Texas Tech.

“It feels good to have it behind me now.''

Gilmore averaged 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season in helping Manvel tie a school record with 30 victories. It was his first season at Manvel, as he had attended Hightower High School in Missouri City, Texas, as a freshman and sophomore. Manvel and Missouri City are suburbs of Houston.

Manvel coach Greg Devers said Gilmore displayed a diversified offensive game last season.

“He runs the lanes well and finishes, and he can really put on a show with his dunks,'' Devers said. “He's a slasher that can get to the basket, but he also has a long-range 3-point shot.

“He was also an above-average defender for us. He'd get out and guard guys that were smaller than him. He's got a motor that goes all day. He doesn't get tired easily. Because he plays with so much energy, he sometimes will make a mistake, but he'll turn around and make five opportunities for us.''

Gilmore led Manvel in assists at 4.2 per game and in steals with 2.0 per game. He earned all-district honors as a junior.

“If he has a weak point to his game, it's probably his mid-range jumper mainly because he doesn't have to rely on it,'' Devers said. “He can take most defenders to the hole or post up and score on them that way.

“He's also shot a lot of pull-up 3s for us, so he probably struggles with that shot from the baseline or the elbow more than anything else. But hopefully, that's something he'll be able to work on before he gets up there.''

In addition to forming a solid relationship with CU's players, Gilmore said he got along well with Creighton's coaching staff.

“I feel they'll work with me to get me to where I want to go, and that's the next level,'' Gilmore said. “Also, playing in front of 17,000 fans didn't sound too bad to me.''

Nor did it hurt that the Bluejays have made the jump to the new Big East.

“There are a lot of good teams and players in the Big East,'' he said. “I wanted the chance to play against top teams, and I'll get it there.''

Gilmore said the Creighton coaches told him he will likely play the small forward-big guard spot in the Bluejays' lineup. And with Creighton set to lose three of its five starters from this season's team, Gilmore should get a chance to play from the get-go.

“They told me if I come in and put in the work,'' Gilmore said, “that I could have a chance to start right away.''

In addition to having a high-energy level, Devers said, Gilmore is extremely competitive.

“He's a hard worker, and when we have a game against another high-profile opponent, he's really focused,'' Devers said. “When practice is over, he's going to be the prankster and the jokester in the locker room.

“I don't think Leon has ever met a kid he doesn't like, and he treats everyone the same. He's a guy that likes to have fun, but he definitely knows when it's time to get serious.''

Contact the writer: Steven Pivovar

stevepivovar@hotmail.com    |   402-679-2298    |  

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series.

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