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WNBA Draft Watch 2020: Kiah Gillespie is developing into a skilled frontcourt player, prospect

All this forward needed to thrive was a change of scenery. Kiah Gillespie has gotten the chance to show her stuff since transferring to Florida State. Her performance for the Seminoles has been enough to put her name into WNBA Draft discussions.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 13 Women’s Clemson at Florida State
Six-foot-2 Kiah Gillespie has one of the better-looking outside shots in the country of the post players.
Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When forward Kiah Gillespie burst onto the scene as a freshman at Maryland, her potential was apparent immediately — she scored 15 points in her first game, 19 in her second and 18 in her third.

As it so happened, that would be Gillespie’s best stretch of basketball for a long time. She scored in double figures just twice for the remainder of her debut season. Playing just 11.5 minutes per game as a freshman, Gillespie was dropped to 9.9 as a sophomore. She then chose to transfer to Florida State and sat out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules.

Since regaining her eligibility, Gillespie has been the Seminoles’ best player, leading Florida State to a 24-9 overall record as a junior and an impressive 11-0 non-conference start as a senior. It’s safe to say head coach Sue Semrau’s patience with Gillespie has paid off.

Here’s the player who is shining for the Seminoles:

Honors and statistics

Like last season, Gillespie has been an integral part of the Seminoles’ 2019-20 success. Though her volume is down somewhat (23.8 percent usage), Gillespie has been effective — leading Florida State in both scoring (15.5 points) and rebounding (8.7 boards). She also averages two assists per game.

Prior to the season, Gillespie was named to the Wooden and Katrina McClain Award watch lists. She also was named to the Preseason All-ACC Team, along with teammate and fellow senior Nicki Ekhomu.

How she helps the Seminoles

The 6-foot-2 Gillespie is a well-rounded, talented post player who can score both inside and outside. Offensively, her game has few weaknesses.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 Women’s Florida State at Notre Dame
Kiah Gillespie
Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While not as physically overwhelming as some of the other players at her position, Gillespie is a smooth operator in the post, and her outside shot is downright pretty when she gets her feet set.

Highlight: “Gillespie rattles in a triple”

It’s that 3-point shot that makes Gillespie such a difficult cover for ACC foes. It is also a skill that makes her an intriguing prospect for WNBA general managers. Being such a focus for opposing defenses, Gillespie doesn’t get many open looks from the perimeter (like in the clip above). That could change in a professional offense, however, where she isn’t the primary scoring option.

Regardless, Gillespie 3-pointers tend to be good shots for the Seminoles — she has made four 3-pointers in three games this season, and her contributions far exceed the long ball. While not much of a shot-blocker, Gillespie ensures Florida State finishes defensive possessions with rebounds. Her defensive rebounding rate of 20.1 percent ranks in the 91st percentile, per Her Hoop Stats. She can dish it a bit, too, as evidenced by her recent triple-double (14 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) against Michigan.

With Gillespie as the center of attention, it’s no surprise that Florida State remains one of the top teams in the ACC. We’ll see if she can continue to elevate her game as the Seminoles compete for a conference title.

Watch her play

The Seminoles play two more games on national TV before tournament time. They’ll take to the road to play the Duke Blue Devils on Feb. 16, then conclude their regular season with a March 1 home game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Both games will air on ESPN2.