New Castle star Mason Gillis looking for “the right fit” as his knee (and game) gets better and better

Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis drives to the basket against Senior All-Star forward Aaron Henry during a recent game at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis walks up the court during a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis feeds a pass to teammate Dawand Jones during a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis shoots a free throw during a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis tries to avoid a defensive trap during a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis prepares to block out Indiana Senior All-Star Eric Hunter during a recent game at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis walks up the court during a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis battles for position with Senior All-Star forward Damezi Anderson during a recent game at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis (right) prepares to block out 2018 Indiana Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford during a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana Junior All-Star Mason Gillis (center) sits on the bench with an injured knee against the Kentucky Junior All-Stars during a recent game at Trinity High School in Louisville. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)

NEW ALBANY – For the mass of New Castle High School basketball fans that had traveled the 140 or so miles down to the banks of the Ohio River last Wednesday, it had to be a tad frustrating to watch Trojan stars Mason Gillis and Luke Bumbalough compete in the Indiana Junior All-Stars’ battle with their big brothers, the Senior All-Stars, at New Albany High School.

In the case of Bumbalough, he didn’t do what he is capable of doing, which is shoot the lights out of the basketball, as he missed five of seven shots overall (3 of 4 from 3-point range).

And as for Gillis, he may have been physically capable of playing well, but his mind has to catch up with his knee.

Gillis had surgery in late April after tearing his meniscus and in the 111-101 loss to the Seniors, he – at times – appeared tentative but with good reason.

“I’m not 100 percent,” Gillis told News-Sentinel.com earlier in the week, “but I’m pretty good right now. I’m trying to get strong again. My mental side, I’m trying to get that back and not worry about (the injury) anymore.”

The 6-foot-7 Gillis went through pregame warm-ups in two earlier games for the Junior All-Stars but never felt strong enough to compete in the games.

Against the Seniors, he made three of his five shots en route to eight points but he didn’t attempt a 3-pointer, which was a bit unusual for this ever-evolving player.

As a team, New Castle likes to jack-up some long shots (the Trojans made 256 3-pointers last year) and Gillis is getting better and better at doing so.

He made 32 3-pointers as a junior and connected on 45 percent of his attempts.

“Over the past year-and-a-half, two years,” Gillis explained, “I’ve really developed my game to go to the perimeter and be able to shoot.”

What Gillis did do against the Seniors, however, was go after the ball.

He grabbed a team-high seven rebounds despite playing fewer minutes than five of his teammates. That effort wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for Gillis.

Last season, Gillis averaged over nine rebounds per game and notched 23 double-doubles for the Trojans, as he scored nearly 22 points each game.

In a victory over Mt. Vernon, Gillis had 22 rebounds, while in a win over longtime rival Muncie Central he scored 33 points and grabbed 19 rebounds.

New Castle won 27 of its 30 games and didn’t have its season end until falling 65-60 to eventual IHSAA Class 3A State Champion Culver Academies in the semi-state. The sectional and regional crowns were the first for the program in 10 years.

That success was in large part due to great team chemistry, which Gillis said he is in search of at the next level, as well.

“You need the right guys,” Gillis explained, “You need to be able to bond with the guys. There obviously are conflicts everywhere but to be able to mesh with the guys and play together and win some games.

“You trust each other with anything.”

Gillis said that Boston College, Ohio State, Purdue, Xavier, and Butler are all equally under consideration right now, as he searches for “the right fit.”

“I’m looking for a coach that wants me to come in and make an impact,” Gillis said. “Someplace where I can go and develop as a person and a player.”

With his knee feeling better each sunrise, that shouldn’t be much of a problem to achieve.

For more on the sport of basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010, Facebook at Thomas Davis, and Instagram at tomdavis101010.

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