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HDN All-Area: Plainvilles' Gillum does it all

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Hoxie High School junior Kade Spresser, a first team HDN all-area selection this year, was impressed with his cousin, Plainville junior Hadley Gillum. Hoxie and Plainville matched up Feb. 5. While Hoxie won by 19 points, Spresser observed what the rest of the area saw: Gillum did just about everything.

"We had him tired," Spresser said. "We were forcing him to play all five spots, which would mean bring the ball up, set the offense up, go post up and then expected to rebound and all that, too. That's really hard."

Gillum finished with 15 points and six rebounds versus the Indians, one of the few games where he didn't record a double-double. The athletic 6-foot-4 Gillum was named Player of the Year on the 35th Annual HDN All-Area Basketball Team, as the Cardinals enjoyed a surprising 15-6 season.

Gillum collected 18.3 points and 14 rebounds a game, and multiple coaches called him the best player they saw all year.

Last year, Plainville graduated four starters, including all-area selection Andrew Casey, from a team that won 40 games in two years. Gillum was the sixth man on the 2011-12 squad and averaged 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first year after he transferred from Palco.

Gillum always has basketball "on the mind" and, shortly after the end of last year, started to talk with seniors Nolan Weiser and senior guard Connor Collins. Gillum improved his physical strength and mental game and realized he needed to play a bigger role this winter.

"I usually have the ability to do stuff," Gillum said. "It's just having the confidence to step and make it happen and know that I can do it. I just kind of got it in my head. We lost these great seniors, and somebody had to step up."

Gillum has become more involved in football coach Joe Simon's weightlifting program and has seen massive gains in the three core lifts, bench, squat and clean. Gillum, who called himself "very weak" when he first moved, now can squat 325 pounds and clean 275 pounds. Gillum also comes from a basketball family. After the sub-state championship game in Plainville ended, Gillum came onto the court with his father, Tyler, mother and two brothers. Gillum, able to dunk since his freshman year, delivered some big slams. His father ran through some shooting drills with his brothers. This summer, he is expected to play on a traveling team based out of St. John that will take trips to Minnesota, Kansas City and Texas, among other places.

"That is kind of a big deal for our family," Gillum said.

Weiser, likely to either sign with Kansas Wesleyan for basketball or Fort Hays State University for track, was the lone returning starter. He averaged 15.4 points per game, and Collins tacked on 7.6 points a contest. However, Plainville had trouble handling the ball, so Gillum often played point guard before he set up down low. He scored more than 20 points nine times, including a 29-point, 26-rebound effort in a 52-47 win against Victoria on Jan. 29. Coach Weiser hardly ever subbed out Gillum; sometimes, he called a timeout just to give Gillum some rest.

"I am not sure how he did it sometimes," coach Weiser said.

No matter how big his role, Gillum always deflected praise. After the big performance against Victoria, Gillum credited his teammates with hitting key foul shots. In the season finale, a sub-state semifinal loss to Oakley, Gillum finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Gillum fouled out with just over five minutes left, but immediately became a leader from the bench. He turned to the home crowd and raised his arms, encouraging them to help in a comeback. During timeouts, he constantly encouraged and helped in the huddle.

"I was certainly disappointed that I was out, but I just had to pump those other guys up," Gillum said.

This week, Gillum was asked for what game stood out the most this season. Gillum thought for a second and couldn't name one. Instead, he was simply pleased to win games and help the Cardinals post a solid year.

"Nobody even expected us to have a winning record," he said.