John Gilchrist to Greivis Vasquez: “College is the Best Time of Your Life By Far”

June 12, 2009 | Glenn Clark

Greivis Vasquez has a Monday 5pm deadline to make a decision as to whether or not he will return to College Park for his senior campaign. And if he’s looking for a warning about what could happen if he makes the wrong decision, he doesn’t need to look that far to the past. The last time a University of Maryland player left school early for the NBA Draft, that player never actually reached the NBA.

There are many easy comparisons between Greivis Vasquez and John Gilchrist. Both players showed flashes of brilliance during their freshman season before becoming focal parts of Gary Williams’ offense in their second campaign. Court result comparisons seem to split from there, as Gilchrist peaked during his sophomore season (remarkable run to ACC Championship; then a tumultuous junior season that ended with the Terps missing the NCAA Tournament); while Vasquez peaked during his junior campaign (toppling North Carolina and Wake Forest on a run to the NCAA Tournament after an NIT appearance the year prior).

As far as “basketball personality” is concerned, the two players are even more similar. Gilchrist and Vasquez are both emotional leaders who have often been characterized as players who “put the team on their back.” Neither had great outside shots, but both made up for it by a tremendous ability to cut to the basket and finish, as well as the uncanny ability to knock down a big outside shot when a game was in the balance. They have also both been considered “polarizing” figures for their fiery attitudes on and off the court.

John Gilchrist’s departure from Maryland didn’t exactly go the way he had hoped; as he went undrafted and failed to make the Cleveland Cavaliers roster following a stint on their NBA Summer League team. He’s bounced around a few squads in Europe, including stints in Israel and Latvia. He’s now working with a trainer named Micah Lancaster and has really dedicated himself to the hope of fulfilling his NBA dreams…..but more on that in a minute.

Gilchrist joined Drew Forrester Friday morning on “The Comcast Morning Show” on AM1570 WNST. Drew asked him about Greivis Vasquez, and Gilchrist admitted that while he didn’t have a relationship with Vasquez, he certainly admires him….

“Obviously he’s a big time player. The bigger the game, the bigger he steps up. You have to respect a guy like that. He really pours his heart and soul onto the floor.”

But when asked about what advice he would give Greivis, Gilchrist stopped short of saying he would recommend Vasquez stay in school, instead simply stating….

“College is the best time of your life by far.”

Gilchrist went on to admit that it isn’t easy to just offer simple advice. He’s enjoyed things he’s done since leaving school….

“I’ve experienced a lot of things, going overseas and doing different things.

And knows that each player’s situation isn’t always black and white…..

“You never know a guy’s situation. Everyone has a story and has things going on.”

And his last piece of advice to Vasquez….

“Take the process, get the advice out there, and see where he may fall and what the situation may be. Continue to work hard, and hope for the best.”

He wrapped up by admitting he is rooting for the Venezuelan sensation….

“I just hope he is a success story.”

It is a really compelling interview to listen to, and I can’t recommend checking it out in the WNST Audio Vault enough. Gilchrist is really working hard to improve himself as a person on and off the court, and he sounded like he really has his head about him. He holds no hostility towards Gary Williams (who often criticized him during his junior season for appearing to be already looking at his pro career) or the University, and speaks highly of him.

His trainer Micah Lancaster (of Ganon Baker Basketball) said in a recent blog post that Gilchrist has “taken full responsibility for the mistakes he made in 2005”, and Lawrence told me that he is hoping fans will “get to know the real John Gilchrist, or at least the new one.”