John Gilchrist is a 29 year old 187cm guard from Virginia Beach, Virgina that is a tough, physical point guard who runs the floor with proficiency and possesses an uncanny ability to finish. Characterized as a winner and a competitor. With his strength and determination, he is a very effective point guard. He played at ACC power house Maryland from 2001-2005 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2003. As a rookie in 2005-2006 he played for Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (Israel-Premier L.): 30 games: 13.2ppg, 4.9rpg, 3.2apg, 1.9spg, 2FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 66.2%. In 2006-2007, he played for Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (France-ProA): 5 games: 9.6ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, left in Oct.’06, then joined Hapoel Ironi Nahariya (Israel-Premier League, starting five): 7 games: 12.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.1apg, 1.9spg, 2FGP: 59.5%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 72.7%; FIBA EuroCup: 6 games: 12.2ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.0apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 63.3%, 3FGP: 35.3%, FT: 68%; left in Jan.’07, then moved to Los Angeles D-Fenders (D-League), left in March’07, in April ’07 signed at Idaho Stampede (D-League): 3 games: 5.3ppg, 1.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.7spg. In 2007-2008, he played for BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL): ULEB Cup: 1 game: 2pts, 1reb, 1ast, 1steal, left in Nov.’07: LBL: 2 games 5.0ppg 3.0rpg 3.0apg 0.5bpg 1.0spg; Baltic League: 6 games: 6.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 55.6%, FT: 60.0%; ULEB cup: 1 game 2pt 1reb 1as 1st, later that month moved to Iscar Nahariya (Israel-Premier League): 22 games: 11.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 37.3%, FT: 73.3%. In 2009-2010, he played for Adelaide 36ers (Australia-NBL, starting five): 25 games: 16.9ppg, 5.4rpg, Assists-4(4.2apg), FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 68.5%. In the last few years he played in countries like Slovakia, Hungry and Venezeula. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Hi John thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how was your thanksgiving?
Hello Miles. I am currently living in my hometown of Virginia Beach/ Norfolk area and my Thanksgiving was great spent time with my family which is not always available playing abroad.
The new basketball season is now a few months old and your still sitting around without a team. How difficult is it at the moment not knowing what your basketball future is?
It is a bit difficult but being apart of this profession for 7 years I understand that it is a game of patience and being in shape and ready for an opportunity to arrive.
You are in the best basketball age now at 29. How surprised are you that a guy like you are without a team at the moment?
I am much wiser now than before that is the best part of all of the experiences that I have encountered. It is not surprising to me that I would have to work my way up in this industry due to the poor market in many countries and also I had setbacks of wrist injury last season.
You had a torn anterior cruciate ligament and it took a while for you to get back where you were inactive. Do you think that many teams forgot you in this time and that that hurt your market value?
Yes as an athlete an injury is a red flag and going through that process has made me realize that I must be in my most healthiest form at all times because in this business it is no time for mistakes. I appreciate the game for all that it offers so I take the good with the bad. It happens to all athletes. I love to play basketball. It is the most important thing in my life outside of God and my family.
What do you think has been the main reasons for your present inactivity? An increase in difficulty in the basketball market or have you had offers that just didn´t fit your ideal situation?
Honestly this game is a bit of give and take teams offer what they can and some sell you the world and cannot afford it so I am at a point in my life that I understand the risk versus rewards in this industry. I just try to use the game for any positive situation that can come from it.
Who has been keeping you focused the most in this time besides your family and friends? Is there a particular basketball mentor or former teammate that has kept you positive?
I have had older teammates that I have kept in contact with that give me advice as well as rivals that we became friends and past coaches. It is always great to network and associate with good people because it is always opportunities in when you may be able to help the next person or vice versa.
Last season you had a tough season playing briefly in Hungry and then in Venezuela. Were these just the wrong decisions that you made picking these jobs? How would you summarize your season last year?
Last season was a wash I had hit my wrist in Hungary playing and that was diagnosed as a small tear that required me to get a cast on my hand. I thought I would be tough and play through it in Venezuela being a competitor but I decided to get it fixed and get it better for the long run. Your body is the main tool in sports. Without health you have nothing and I learned that you must make sure everything is fine because when you go to a organization it’s ShowTime.
How has your offseason workout schedule looked like the last months? How does a normal John Gilchrist workout day look like?
I work out twice a day as if I were at a team. I’ve learned a lot from past teams and I contact many coaches and trainers in my area so I live in the gym. I lift, run, bike, swim, skill train and play. Those are the things that keep me ready to play on call.
You are a tough, physical point guard who runs the floor with proficiency and possesses an uncanny ability to finish. What is a strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
Now that I have experienced more I am learning how to play without getting knocked to the floor as much in order to start to play smarter. Taking a lot of contact is very grueling on your body over the years so the main thing I focus on now is watching more basketball and study crafty players to find an advantage in a game. If I see something that worked for a certain guy or girl ( I watch all genders of basketball) I will write that play down as a focal point to practice when I touch a basketball again.
If you could sell yourself in a few sentences as to why any professional basketball team would be thrilled to have you now how would you describe it?
I am the same passionate guy inside with a vast awareness of knowledge from my experiences. I just ask for the opportunity to prove my value to a team. When you are young in the game your focus is more selfishly driven in making a name so you want to focus on stats or things like that. When you mature you realize the real value of a player is simply doing what it takes to make the team win. I can defend, play various positions other than point guard and I focus on my leadership qualities to make the team a better team.
What do you know from the German basketball leagues? Do you have any friends playing in Germany and would you like to play here?
I have heard any great things about Germany. I have had people that I knew participate in the various leagues and they explained it as competitive.
You played three solid seasons in Europe from 2005-2008 in good leagues like France and Israel, but after that have bounced around playing in lower leagues. Why did your career go down this path?
After I left Israel I decided to leave Europe and try the NBDL and when that did not work out I ended up in Australia which was my strongest year and also when I injured myself in the final month so it was unfortunate timing in why I never returned to Europe. This business is a lot of chance and the paths you take make it difficult to go back when the jobs are filled.
You were drafted by the Colorado 14ers in 2008. Why didn´t you ever play longer in the States? You had a short stint with the Idaho Stampede. The pay isn´t as good as in Europe, but sometimes a player gets a break in the D-league and it is a good stage to present your basketball skills.
The NBDL is a good league but also a league as any that you have to be in a situation in where you are on a team that you are able to play to show what you can do. In professional sports it’s competitive and that’s what we all love about it but also when you are in a situation in where the rosters are already set and your role is to be a backup player it is difficult to find minutes so that is why I tell guys that are in good situation that it is a chance anytime you go to a new team because you never know the situation of the work environment.
Early in your professional basketball career you played with Jeff Greer in Israel who has had a very long basketball career. What could you learn from him as a young buck that helped you as a player?
Jeff was a great professional and a good teammate. He was one of the older guys that taught me what this business is all about. Basketball skills are valuable but being a positive asset to the organization is even bigger and that’s what Jeff specialized in. He would do what was asked of him to keep his job and that takes a professional mindset.
You played briefly in 2006-2007 for Pau Ortez. Your coach was Gordon Herbert. What do you remember him as coach and how was he advantageous for the young players on the team?
Yes coach Gordie Herbert was a serious big time coach and was a national team coach of the Republic of Georgia at the time and I honestly wasn’t experienced or good enough of a professional point guard to do that job at that time in my career. I’ve always been a scorer at will and there I averaged 12 ppg or something similar, which is solid in Top French league & Euroleague competition, but only in my 2nd year out of USA college style I still didn’t fully understand the position I was trusted in and that team didn’t have time for me to groom me to the learning curve. I was very talented but to lead a group of men at 22 years old is a task that you must understand how to play. How to act how to motivate how to gain your respect from your peers. I was appreciative for the opportunity but it was a great opportunity to learn and I owe coach Gordie Herbert for that experience to learn from.
In 2009-2001, you had a very strong season with the : Adelaide 36ers (Australia-NBl) playing 25 games: 16.9ppg, 5.4rpg, Assists-4(4.2apg), FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 68.5%. What do you remember most from this season and what was it like as an American living down under?
I loved Australia it was great weather and the basketball was competitive also.
As a freshman you played behind future NBA player Steve Blake. How was he able to make you into a better player and help you become the strong starting point guard that you were with Maryland?
Steve was a pro and I didn’t even realize how great he was due to his playing style. When you are a pass first guard it opens up the game more because people forget that you have an offensive arsenal and that is what Steve Blake did in the NBA his strength is he knows how to make others better, he can push the tempo of the ball game but his main weapon is his mind. He’s IQ is of a basketball genius!
You helped Maryland win their first ACC tournament in 20 years by beating Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina State. What do you remember from the Duke win where you led Maryland back from 12 points down and 6 future NBA players?
It was a great time more like a perfect storm. I have traveled the world and seen many good players and at that time I was hot on the basketball radar. What I’ve learned is that I lived a basketball dream during that time. The game gives you those moments sometimes when you are dedicated to it.
Your teammate at Maryland Was Ekene Ibekwe that has played in Germany. What is your fondest memory with him and do you still keep in touch?
Yes I speak with all of my former teammates over the phone or social media. Ekene and I were roommates in college so we will forever be friends. I root for guys all the time and we are supportive of each others careers.
Who was the best player that you defended against in the NCAA that is in the NBA now? How did you do against him?
Chris Paul was fast played the pick and roll masterful could get to the free throw line and shot it 90% from the free throw. I actually study his game. His one on one isolation game is good or his pick and roll ability and his leadership qualities are what makes him my favorite player to watch and learn from his playing style.
Many described you as having an NBA type body like Stephon Marbury. You played NBA summer league for the Cavaliars. Your mental immaturity was seen as something that prevented you from going to the NBA. When you look back at this time, is there something you could of done different in your mental approach that could of steered you in the right direction of your NBA dream?
Yes I was very immature. I always looked as the game as that and when I have entered the professional ranks it dawned on me the business of this “Sports Industry” it is more than myself taking you one on one in which was the way I learned to play the game. They’re many aspects to the game of basketball and the only way to improve is to add to your value and that is why I.Q is important to any player to grow as a player.
Coaching seems to be something you will want to get into after your professional basketball career. You played for well known coach Gary Williams. Are there any coaching qualities that you learned from him as a player that you would like to incorporate into your coaching?
Coach Williams was a master motivator and he had the great quality of getting the whole organization to understand his vision and make it come to fruition. That takes a genius and dedicated person to make that happen. He is legendary.
Thanks John for the chat.