A drive for success and redemption led Geneseo’s Kevin Gillespie to the decision to play basketball at the collegiate level.

A drive for success and redemption led Geneseo’s Kevin Gillespie to the decision to play basketball at the collegiate level.

“I think it was mostly because of the success we had our senior year of high school and getting to the Sweet 16 and losing,” said Gillespie. “I had a bad taste in my mouth after that and I didn’t want to end my career on that note. I wanted to keep playing.”

Gillespie said he chose to play at North?Central College because of the coaching staff, the education and North Central is half way between his brothers in Chicago and his family in Geneseo.

“I came into the program at a time when the team was very senior dominated and I knew once they graduated I would have more of a chance to play,” he said.

“I absolutely love it here. I?love North Central, the area and the people. It was the best choice for me.”

During Gillespie’s freshman year, he used it as a learning experience and a chance to get acclimated to a new system and style of basketball. He also saw what it took to win.

In his sophomore year, he worked hard and saw it pay off with receiving a few minutes on the floor and eventually received a starting spot.

Last season turned into Gillespie’s shot and with only two seniors ahead of him he started every game.

“I came in and was confident and took over that leadership role,” he said.

Gillespie said playing the game at the collegiate level did take some getting use to.

“It is night and day compared to high school,” he said. “It is so much quicker, stronger and mentally tougher. You have to be quick and know that next step without the coach telling you or you will be on the bench next to him.”

A big highlight for Gillespie over the last three years happened this year when North Central played Augustana College for the conference championship and if North Central won they would be co-champs.

“The crowd packed the gym and we played hard and won the game,” he said. “I hit the last free throws of the game to win.”

He said a challenge has been adjusting to the speed of the game and the size of the players he is up against.

“I?have really learned through this experience that persistence pays off,”?said Gillespie. “I was always a starter and had playing time in high school, so not getting that time to start off with was hard, but sticking with it showed my work really paid off.

“My motivation to stick with it came from not wanting to let people down. I didn’t want to not finish what I?started.”

Gillespie said his expectations for this final year would be to help his team find some of the same succes they had last year in winning a conference championship and also would like to make a trip to the national tournament.

“I am the only senior on the team this year so I need to step up and lead and contribute,”?he said. “Being the only senior is always the worse case scenario because the coach always looks to the seniors and if something goes wrong it is on the seniors, but I like the challenge.”

“I’ve been working hard and I am starting to picture what it is going to be like knowing I am playing for the last time,” said Gillespie. “I look forward to it, but also not. It is a bittersweet moment, which just makes me push myself harder. I don’t know what to expect this year, but I want to cherish every moment and take it all in.”