Gavin Schilling went from a freshman who almost always looked uncomfortable on the court to a sophomore who only sometimes looked uncomfortable. After coming off the bench for the first 6 games, he started the seventh game against Kansas and remained the starter for the rest of the season. While he didn't have a particularly diverse or strong offensive game, his rim-running, offensive rebounding (his 12.3% OReb was best on the team), and the threat as an alley-oop target were all useful as offensive weapons in his limited role.
Using this player comparison tool created by MGoBlog’s Alex Cook, these are the B1G players with the highest similarity scores (dates back to 2008):
I'm beginning to learn that non-stars' comparisons are typically former non-stars and aren't as exciting. This is just a list of typical big men and it's an odd coincidence that 5 of the 10 are from last year. No one on this list really inspires excitement but also none of them are guys that'd you wouldn't want as a backup center.
Schilling drastically improved from his freshman season across the board despite getting a bigger role. He fouled less (still fouls way too much), got fouled more, shot better, turned it over less, and mostly maintained his rebounding rates. He looked good in the beginning of the year and was making a decent case that he was the best big man on the team for a little while. He had two double-doubles on the year with both coming in the first half of the season against Santa Clara (a blowout) and Penn State (only a 6 point MSU victory).
Schilling started out the 2014-15 season very solid. After some point, however he seemed to hit a wall and he just struggled. He had a huge issue with FT’s and ended up shooting just 47.9% on them. If you follow me on twitter you may remember that I was a huge proponent of Costello in the Costello vs. Schilling debate. Outside of finishing alley-oops and some lateral quickness, there wasn’t really an area Schilling had much of an edge over Costello. He turned it over more, assisted less, and had a decently lower ORtg. While you should always take plus-minus with a grain of salt, there was a sizable gap between the two MSU centers over the last 7 games of the conference season and during the Big Ten Tournament.
Again, take plus-minus with a grain of salt in such a small sample size but that’s pretty rough. During the Georgia game in the NCAA tournament, I tweeted this out and it got a lot more retweets/favorites than I expected/wanted it to.
I've come to a strange time in the season where I'm less nervous when Wollenman is out there than when Schilling is out there— Matt Mc (@basketballfan66) March 20, 2015
Not a great sign.
One thing about Schilling is that he's pretty young for his class. He's a 19 year old rising junior and turns 20 on November 10 (I think). Another thing to take into account is that he really wasn't a highly rated recruit. He was just #137 on 247Sports' composite rankings and that likely had more to do with his potential than immediate impact. He was someone that could've really benefited from a redshirt season as a freshman, but there was so little frontcourt depth in 2013-14 that he was forced into action. After a freshman season in which he was pretty bad, he made a pretty big leap forward to be adequate this year. If he can make anywhere need that leap again for next year, he can make a big impact at center for the next two seasons. If I had to make a prediction I'd guess Costello gets more minutes than Schilling next year but Gavin may very well start again. He fouls a ton and makes silly mistakes but there's still a decent amount of upside to him.