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SI High School Player of the Week - Basketball

March 29, 2011

Michael Gilchrist

Position:

Forward

School:

St. Patrick

Location:

Elizabeth, N.J.

Height:

6-4

Weight:

205

Class:

Senior

Season Highlights:

A pro in the making, Gilchrist can do it all and averaged 19.4 points, 14.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 5.2 blocks for one of the nation's top programs this season. He has signed with Kentucky.

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Posted: Tuesday March 29, 2011 11:04AM ; Updated: Tuesday May 24, 2011 12:43PM

Michael Gilchrist next in line at Kentucky

By Ben Glicksman, SI.com

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As Kentucky basked in the afterglow of their 76-69 East Regional Final triumph over North Carolina on Sunday, they looked every bit a perfect program. Their hyper-efficient offense scored seemingly at will, racking up 38 points per half and shooting 48 percent from the field. Their perimeter defense was suffocating, limiting the Tar Heels to 3-of-16 from three. At times, the Wildcats appeared unstoppable.

Scary then, that with the addition of 6-foot-7 forward Michael Gilchrist, they may be even better next season.

"He just does it all," St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle said. "He's one of the best guys I've seen in a long, long time."

That's been the case his entire life, as the soft-spoken Gilchrist has been touted as a major college talent since middle school. He's a coaches' dream, complete with pro-ready athleticism, remarkable scoring instincts and an insatiable hunger to succeed. He averaged 19.4 points, 14.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists as a senior, dissecting high school competition with the ease of an NBA veteran in a YMCA pickup game. Introverted off the court, he's a fearless leader on it.

He's also a defensive force. Despite his lavish offensive numbers, he's most valuable stifling the opposition, averaging 5.2 blocks and 3.5 steals. His singular defensive focus -- a rarity at the prep level -- is a major reason St. Patrick has gone 105-12 since Gilchrist's freshman year, including winning the New Jersey Tournament of Champions in 2009.

"I always play hard," Gilchrist said. "I just don't like to lose."

His dedication has been unmistakable, and in spite of his quiet nature, his overwhelming success has thrust him into the spotlight. He was named Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American in 2011, adding to a stable of accolades that dates back to his pre-teen years. As would be expected for a player of his caliber, he also received an outpouring of college attention, committing to Kentucky over Villanova, Texas and Oregon last April.

"He's going to a style that's good for him," Boyle said. "[Kentucky is] gonna try to get up and down."

Gilchrist's hardworking ethos extends far beyond the hardwood. He travels 77 miles from his home in Somerdale, N.J., to school each day, crediting his relationship with Boyle and the Celtics' tradition -- Al Harrington and Kyrie Irving also attended St. Patrick -- as rationale for the trek. He's also an aspiring poet, something he'll look to further in Lexington next fall.

His biggest impact should come in uniform, though, as the blue-chipper is a perfect fit for Kentucky's blue-blooded faithful. He already has experience on a big stage, netting 16 points and 15 rebounds in St. Patrick title victory, and has the size to pose matchup problems on both ends of the floor. He'll look to follow in the footsteps of John Wall and Brandon Knight, to make immediate contributions for John Calipari's youth-laden starting five.

Though daunting, he's also ready to embark on a repeat Final Four campaign.

"We just plan to play hard and win," he said.

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