Seldom does a young man with amazing talent on the basketball court, smarts in the classroom, and a good attitude find his way into the spotlight. Gavin Schilling, Michigan State’s lone class of 2013 basketball recruit, has managed to do just that.
Most sought-after recruits have been playing basketball since they could walk or soon thereafter. Then again, few have the talent and size of Gavin Schilling. A German native, Schilling grew up in France and did not begin playing basketball until 2009, after he and his mother moved to Chicago.
The 6’9, 209 pound prospect quickly blossomed into quite the basketball player, drawing the eyes of many a scout. Interest in the youngster only increased when Schilling set off for Nevada last August to attend perennial basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep.
Since 2008, the school has consistently graduated four to five Division I players per year, and has produced current NBA’ers such as Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Cory Joseph (Spurs), Avery Bradley (Celtics), and DeAndre Liggins (Magic). Many, including Izzo, began to see Schilling’s high talent ceiling and his NBA-caliber potential.
Schilling was on Spartan Nation Radio recently to talk about the process.
Playing power forward, Schilling possesses an outstanding post game and a knack for bringing down rebounds. Despite his size, the prospect covers the floor well and plays with a passion. The youngster related the analysis that Izzo and assistant coach Dane Fife gave him: “I have to develop my game, in all aspects, like in my jump shot and [ball] handling,” said Schilling. “But right now my strengths are inside, finishing the ball above the rim, rebounding, running the floor, just playing hard overall.” He said that Izzo compared him to former Spartan star Draymond Green in the way that Green “came in kind of like me: raw a little bit offensively but still a good player, and how he [Izzo] developed him [Green] to be a shooter, a versatile type of power forward.”
The choice of a college was not an easy one for the talented young player. Eleven programs (including Villanova, UCLA, and Illinois) offered him a scholarship, making his decision a tough one. But by March 28, he knew that he wanted to play for Tom Izzo and wear the Green and White. “What won my heart in the process was his [Izzo’s] personality and how down to earth he is with me when he’s talking to me. His winning tradition…really pulled me close to Michigan State,” Schilling said. “It really made me see I have an opportunity to go far in the Tournament and maybe reach the Final Four and even the National Championship with them.”
Schilling’s chances of reaching a Final Four as a Spartan are high. Every player who has spent four years in East Lansing playing for Tom Izzo has been to the Final Four. “The winning tradition that he has at the school is really special and I want to be part of that,” Schilling stated.
The incoming recruit was also impressed with how Izzo “develops every player who comes through that program.” As Schilling explained, “I really see myself as one of those players being developed into a pro one day.” He has yet to sign his letter of intent, but intends to do so “sometime this month, probably in the next couple of weeks.”
Finding talented recruits is not difficult. But discovering ones with the right intangibles is far from easy. Tom Izzo found one such gem in Schilling. A gentleman and a scholar, the MSU recruit possesses a determination both on and off the court that will suit him well in East Lansing.
As Schilling told Spartan Nation Radio, “I’ll be the guy who never quits and will go after anything to get the win,” he said. “I’ll give it my all once I step on the court, from the beginning of the game until the end of the game. That’s just how I play and that’s my style.” His style of play translates into success not only on the court, but in the classroom.
Gavin’s mother has played a critical role in his upbringing. A self-proclaimed “mama’s boy,” Schilling and his mother have always enjoyed a close relationship. “I was raised in a home with my mom always there: she’s the one who taught me right from wrong,” he said. “She definitely has my heart, I have hers, and she really means a lot to me.”
But by no means does that mean his mom has been easy on him. Especially early on in his schooling, his fear of his mother’s wrath kept Schilling’s nose in his textbooks. “[During] freshman year, I had one “C” in one of my classes and my mom told the coaches to sit me out for one game. That’s how hard she takes academics on me,” Schilling said. “That’s how hard I have to work in the classroom to really perform well out on the court.”
By now, the senior does not need his mom to push him. “I’m self-driven, and I’m self-driven because [of] my mother, she’s the one who really taught me about academics and that life is not all about basketball: it’s about your future also and life after basketball. Just getting a degree will help me in that aspect to be successful after basketball,” he stated. “Definitely academics are really important to me. Right now, I have a 3.8 GPA.”
Thanks to his mother’s upbringing, Schilling has also become a gentleman. Teachers, coaches, and other adults in his life agree that Gavin is a polite young man. “That’s very humbling,” Schilling commented. “That makes me happy to hear that other people think of me as a gentleman. Every day, day in and day out, I just try to act my best,” he continued. “That’s just how I live because that’s what my mom told me to do.”
A talented, young player with an “overseas style,” Schilling possesses the size and skills necessary to succeed at the college level. But the future Spartan also has the critical intangibles (determination, smarts, kindness) that will propel him to the next level. Spartan Nation should be ecstatic to have him on board.