By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Freddie Gillespie grew up wanting to be a football player. He grew tall enough that basketball became his game at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

He had some injuries, but he was smart enough he got into Carlton College, and played sparingly with two injury-plagued seasons there as well — but he kept working.

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“To look at from where I started and to where I’m at now, I mean, that alone is just, you know, for me it’s just huge steps,” Gillespie said. “Any times you try and work towards something, work towards a goal and it starts to develop, and it starts to become a reality, that’s always exciting.”

He got a chance to walk on at Baylor University because of a connection to assistant coach Jared Nuness from his father in Minnesota. He then realized he could play at the end of his red shirt season.

“Really starting to see the dream come to fruition,” he said.

Gillespie then flourished, and his team went to number one in the country. He did everything but get to play in the NCAA Tournament this season.

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“It’s a lot of passion, time and effort into trying to get to … the number-one team in the country, and also to get that number-one seed in the tournament. So it feels a bit [incomplete],” Gillespie said. “To put that much time in and not get the opportunity to even try and be successful … it was devastating.”

But his basketball is not done. He’s been forced to train for his next opportunity, the NBA, all on his own.

“There’s no city-wide ban on running or conditioning and staying in shape. So we have a couple weights here that we got from the weight room before it closed down, so I’ve been using that,” he said. “I was inspired by a lot of stories that came before me … so I try to put the things that I heard other people put to practice and put those same principals, and I hope that my story inspires others.”

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Mike Max