May 4, 2012

Gill to roar with Tigers

Kevin McCarthy

Like with so many other decisions we face in this world, the one to accept your level of recruiting interest coming out of high school versus postponing a four-year commitment and working towards both more choices and a higher standing is fraught with the possibilities of payoff or misstep. Cosumnes River College's (CRC) Tony Gill chose the latter direction and now he couldn't be happier.

photo of Tony Gill

The 6-foot-9 frontcourter had multiple D-II offers after finishing up at Oakmont High two years ago but wanted to take on the challenge of earning a D-1 scholarship.

His decision paid off because, after much effort in both body and skill development, Gill has accepted an offer to become a member of Coach Bob Thomason's University of the Pacific basketball team.

"I always believed I could play D-1 basketball," Gill said. "I always had that feeling but people telling me maybe I should go D-II, that I wasn't ready for D-1 made me wonder."

Meeting with CRC Coach James Giacomazzi clinched the decision. "He told me that I could do it [make it to D-1] if I put in the effort. I would have to buy in and would have a lot of work to do. I thought it would allow me to time to mature physically and emotionally."

So what changed? As Gill explained in an earlier interview, "I worked on my body and lost 25 pounds -- I started eating right. I've learned post skills and I'm working on becoming a better defender. Plus, I learned how to lead now as a sophomore."

For Gill, "CRC was good for me on and off the court."

For Giacomazzi, "as a student and a teammate, Tony had an A+ character. He kept working hard and was a great representative of our school. Tony took a chance on us and himself and became the most recruited player I ever coached."

Gill posted a double-double in consecutive years -- 17/10 and 18/11 -- and was selected to the California Community College All State Team for his efforts this past season.

As to why he chose to go with Pacific, Gill offered a number of reasons.

"The consistency on the coaching staff was important," he explained, adding, "I wasn't just looking for just a good basketball program but also a good school. I wanted that balance. Originally, I was pretty set on going away but the classes at Pacific are smaller and I felt I could approach the professor and not just be a face in the crowd. There is research taking place and internships on campus. Plus, my family and friends can come see me play."

Asked what Tiger fans can expect from him on the court, Gill offered, "I'll bring versatility, the ability to go inside and out, stretching the floor. I have good communication skills and a sense of the game, I'll provide leadership and be a good teammate. My attitude will be great regardless of playing time."

Here's a telling quote from and about Gill the person and player from a previous article: "I love how much you have to think on your feet in basketball." Call it a chess match, albeit a much more physical one.

He expects to probably be at the four, position, with possibly some time at the five for Pacific.

In talking about his decision and his feelings at the moment, Gill said "it's almost indescribable. I felt relief in a way but I was excited. I didn't think I was going to be so happy."

He added, "I definitely want to thank God, thank my family who have been so supportive and always believed in my dream and thank all my coaches from elementary school on and Coach Giacomazzi and his staff."

After Pacific, he has his eye on medical school. Yes, there may be some naysayers piping up on that matter too but it's just another challenge for Gill to meet and his track record is looking pretty good.