Gavin Schilling is at the top of the Gophers’ wish list to round out their 2013 recruiting class (they have already gotten commitments from Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster). Schilling announced this week that he’d narrowed his list of schools that he is considering to four: Michigan State, Minnesota, UCLA and Villanova.

I chatted with him about his decision, and the rest of his recruiting process on Friday night, when he was in the midst of his official visit to UCLA. Schilling said he plans to make a final decision this spring.

A little about Schilling:

  • 6-9, 200-pound forward from Chicago, who currently plays at Findlay Prep (in Nevada).
  • Schilling has been to four high schools in four years, playing at Loyola his freshman season, then an elite school in Germany, then Chicago’s DeLaSalle last year, where he played with Ellis and Foster.
  • Schilling is a strong presence in the paint, but needs to work on refining his shot.
  • Schilling speaks three languages fluently: English, French and German (his father is German and he was raised in France).

The Q&A:

You just announced that you narrowed your list to four schools. And it was just three weeks ago that you had trimmed to ten. That was awfully fast.

I kind of had my mind set on my top four or five, I just wasn’t sure yet. And now I just thought about it and released it … just [wanted] to get to know a little bit more about each program, what they have to offer and I felt like those four schools fit me the best.

Take me through all four programs if you will, and tell me what it is you like about each.

Minnesota, I love coach Smith. He was at my game [Thursday] night (Planet Athletes). We just talked about how the season is going and my improvement and just what they offer, how they develop their players. And there’s Alex [Foster] and Alvin [Ellis] coming in and I’m pretty close with them. I played on the same team with them last year [at Chicago’s DeLaSalle].

Michigan State, I took an unofficial there when I went home over Christmas break. And I loved the whole coaching staff, and coach Izzo, he’s a great, great guy, down to earth guy and he develops his players just as well as coach Smith, and just the whole tradition of their program and how they make it to the Final Four like every other year.

UCLA – I’m actually on my official visit right now. I got here this morning. We just toured the campus. I met with all the academic people, the athletic directors and stuff and we watched the team do a pregame walkthrough for Washington State tomorrow at home. So they were just going through all the Washington State sets and stuff like that. We ate in between, and now I’m back at the hotel just relaxing and we’re about to go out and get something to eat and hang out with the guys.

Tease me – what’s the weather like out there?

It’s a little cooler, a little rainy a little windy. It’s not what I expected.

That can’t be helping your recruitment. It’s supposed to be sunny in California all the time.

Exactly. But not today. But it’s whatever. It’s supposed to be better tomorrow and Sunday. Coach Howland, he’s a great guy too. We went to breakfast this morning with the whole coaching staff and I had a chance to talk with him and the assistant coaches and they are all very friendly … UCLA is one of the best in the nation. Al Freeman, he’s on my team, he’s already committed there and we always talk about me coming there too and he’s trying to get me there of course.

Villanova is also a great school. Coach Wright, he’s a seasoned, down to earth coach, he came out and saw me a month ago almost I want to say. We had a really nice conversation about the whole program, and he said he was going to develop me to my full potential and really help me. It’s a whole family environment because everyone is so close together.

Have you visited Nova yet?

I plan on visiting in the near future, but I haven’t set up an official visit yet.

Would you say Coach Smith is the biggest draw for you for Minnesota?

Yeah, and all the other assistants, they’re always contacting me and checking up on me and I like that they actually do care about me. And it’s a great family environment over there too. Coach Smith is a great guy, like I said.

Now that Alvin and Alex are committed are they lobbying for you to join them?

Alvin is a little bit. I haven’t spoke to Alex in a little while, but Alvin and I talk sometimes and of course, like, Al wants me to come to UCLA, [Alex] wants me to come to Minnesota. We’ve just talked about it.

What does Alvin say?

He just says we can do big things. Me and him and Alex. We can change the whole program around. I mean, not around but (Writer's note: it’s OK, Gavin), you know, but do big things next year as freshmen and be impact players next year.

Does it help to know Minnesota is losing their two major post players for next year and they’re going to NEED freshmen contribution? Does that factor in?

For sure. Trevor and Rodney are both leaving after this year and that’s good for me, so I can actually help this team out a lot if I were to go there next year, and that’s part of why they’re in the top four.

Just from what you know about these four rosters, do you get a sense of where you would get the most immediate opportunity?

At all schools, really. There’s not really one school where I’d say I could play more there. It’s pretty much all the same. I’m going to try to play as much as I can at whatever school I go to next year.

Have you been able to watch the Gophers a lot this season?

Yeah, I watched their game against Michigan State.

That was an interesting game for you to watch – two of your top four.

Exactly, it’s an important game to watch. That was a tough loss for [the Gophers], but it’s hard to play at Michigan State.

What are the most important aspects that are going to determine your decision? With Villanova, the fact that you put them in your Final Four without even seeing their campus makes me think there are certainly more important things than that at least.

No. 1 is a great academic program. I want to go into international business, and I need a school that has that, that’s important and coach Smith always talks to me about life after basketball and how much he stresses that and how important that is and how he can help me out with that aspect of reaching my goals after basketball. That’s one of the reasons I like him.

No. 2 is how well I fit into their style of play, how productive I can be and how much I can make an impact.

And third is my relationship with the coaching staff and that’s one of the reasons that Villanova is in my top four. I have a great relationship with them.

Is there anything that’s a draw that other schools on your list have that the Gophers don’t?

No, they’re different schools of course. But for my situation, they fit every aspect of what I’m looking for, so there’s no school that draws more attention than the other, really.