Collin Gillespie’s interesting basketball path continues. The guard who began his Villanova career as an afterthought but turned out to be a star wasn’t drafted into the NBA Thursday night, or early Friday morning, but he might be happy about that.
Gillespie has agreed to a free-agent two-way deal with the Denver Nuggets, who didn’t have a second-round draft pick but had an offer ready to go if Gillespie went unselected.
The two-way deal means Gillespie, an Archbishop Wood High graduate, will get paid an NBA salary while on the NBA roster but a lesser G League salary while playing in the G League. It’s a common developmental path in professional basketball.
Leading Villanova to the Final Four as a fifth-year player, bookending a career that began when Villanova won the 2018 NCAA title when Gillespie was a freshman reserve, Gillespie won the 2022 Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top senior point guard.
Other locals who signed as undrafted free agents
Gillespie wasn’t the only player with local connections to sign following the draft.
His teammate and former roommate at Villanova, Jermaine Samuels, is signing a free agent deal with the Indiana Pacers, according to a report from CBS. Meanwhile, St. Joseph’s forward Jordan Hall is inking a contract with the San Antonio Spurs, according to sources. Former Iowa State and Archbishop Ryan guard Izaiah Brockington has agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, his agency, Tandem Sports, told The Inquirer. Overtime Elite prospect Dominick Barlow, who played one season of freshman basketball at St. Joseph’s Prep, has agreed to join the Spurs on a two-way contract.
Samuels, a native of Massachusetts, leaves Villanova after a storied five-year career that was highlighted by the 2018 NCAA championship. The forward is one of 11 Wildcats to compile more than 1,200 points and 750 rebounds in his career. Samuels averaged 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and was named the South Regional’s Most Outstanding Player as Villanova reached the Final Four.
Hall declared for the draft on March 18, forgoing the remaining two years of his college eligibility. Heading into Thursday night, he was considered a fringe second-round pick.
The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game, shooting 39% from the field and 36% from three-point range. He’s known for his floor vision, creating space for teammates, and is a confident shooter. He led the Hawks in scoring and ranked 11th nationally in assists per game last season. The Wildwood native previously attended Neumann Goretti, where he was an All-Catholic and All-State selection and led the Saints to the Catholic League championship as a senior.
“Our entire program is beyond excited for Jordan. He has dreamt of this moment for a long time and we are blessed to have been able to serve him as he chased his basketball aspirations here on Hawk Hill,” St. Joe’s coach Billy Lange said in a statement.
“Jordan made the most of his opportunity here as our program has had major roster transition. He has grown as a person in so many ways. I respect his passion for the game as he often competed through injury. I am moved by his loyalty and gratitude towards The Story of Saint Joseph’s Basketball. The next stage of his hoops journey will provide great challenges and moments … Jordan will have The Hawk Will Never Die spirit to carry with him!”
Brockington, who was an All-Big 12 selection in his lone season at Iowa State, previously had stops at St. Bonaventure and Penn State. As a senior, he led the Cyclones in scoring (16.9 points) and rebounding (6.8), and was named the conference’s Newcomer of the Year. At Ryan, Brockington became the school’s third 1,000-point scorer and led the Raiders to a pair of Catholic League semifinals.
Barlow opted not to play at the collegiate level. He signed a professional contract with Overtime Elite, passing up offers from Power 5 schools, including Rutgers. The 6-foot-9 small forward averaged 14.8 points and 5.9 rebounds with Overtime Elite last season. After transferring from St. Joe’s Prep, he graduated from Dumont (N.J.) High School, where he averaged 27.6 points, 17.0 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Barlow was named North Jersey Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2020-21.
Former Villanova wing Cole Swider, who played last season at Syracuse, signed a two-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.