Texas El-Paso’s High Scorer is Getting Better
EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Antoine Gillespie is not a man of modest goals. Playing in his final season with Texas-El Paso, the Miners’ scoring wizard is going for a place in the record books.
″I’ve never had a chance to play in the NCAA or win the WAC tournament,″ said Gillespie, who led the Miners in scoring last season. ″Those are my goals and dreams this year.″
If that’s what Gillespie has set his sights on, then that might also be in UTEP’s future. Because as Gillespie goes, so go the Miners.
The 6-3 guard is the driving force behind the Miners’ offense, boasting a 20.3-point average and a quickness that helps him slip away from defenders and free himself up for open jump shots.
Gillespie again is expected to be a major factor in the Miners’ success as he pursues his goals of championship trophies and making it to the NBA.
The man known simply as ″Toine″ to fans also has the added impetus of chasing Tim Hardaway’s scoring record.
Hardaway, the Miners’ all-time leading scorer, amassed 1,586 points in his four years at UTEP and is now a standout with the Golden State Warriors.
In his three-year career, Gillespie has accumulated 1,169 points.
UTEP coach Don Haskins said Gillespie is a better player than he was last year. That’s impressive, considering Gillespie already was a formidable scorer.
Gillespie, an All-WAC selection last year, is only the second player in UTEP history to score more than 1,000 points in the first two years.
He scored in double figures in every game last season, finishing with a 23.7 point average, and was the league’s second-leading scorer. He racked up at least 20 points in 16 games and went over 20 five times.
His single game best is 45 points scored in an 104-103 overtime loss to Hawaii on Feb. 17.
He also turned in a 37-point effort to lead the Miners to a victory over Virginia Commonwealth in the Sun Carnival Classic championship game a year ago.
Gillespie hasn’t shown any signs of slackening his pace, looking impressive in exhibition games and turning in 26 points in the Miners’ season opener against Bellhaven College and 25 in a loss to No. 22 New Mexico State.
He had only 11 as UTEP beat the Aggies 77-68 in the rematch. But it was also a game where Gillespie began to show he is maturing into a team player, leaving behind some of his showboating.
Gillespie took the point for the game, consistently dishing off to his teammates and holding the Miners together as the Aggies tried to rally.
That was distinctly different from last season when he tried to win games by himself, sometimes accounting for half of the Miners’ scoring. He turned in very few assists as he satisfied his urge to shoot.
″I don’t mind if he shoots good shots,″ Haskins said. But he added that a high scoring average isn’t much good unless a high shooting percentage goes along with it.
The coach does express satisfaction, however, with Gillespie’s work ethic and his drive to improve. ″I think he’s working very hard to get to the next level,″ Haskins said.
And Gillespie isn’t satisfied. He said he worked hard in the summer and is still striving to become an all-around player.
″You always want to do better than you did last year,″ said Gillespie. ″I just want to improve on everything.″
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