Gilchrist leads way in 6-1 start

With added weight and conditioning, sophomore forward Augustus Gilchrist was expected to make a giant leap forward this season and be a force in the post for the Bulls.

Gilchrist has been just that and maybe even more, helping the USF men’s basketball team to a 6-1 record – its best start since the 2002-2003 season.

Gilchrist notched a career-high 27 points in the Bulls’ 78-58 win over FAU on Friday and leads the team with 20.1 points per game.

“That’s a luxury to have a big man who can play around the basket but can also step away from the basket and open up the offense,” said USF coach Stan Heath.

What’s really impressed Heath is Gilchrist’s defensive improvement from last year. Gilchrist leads USF with 7.4 rebounds per game.

He matched a season-best three blocks Friday, and he has 11 this season, seven more than anyone else on the team.

“I think that’s one of the underrated areas that he’s done a good job with,” Heath said. “He’s handling ball screens and shoring up screens for shooters and just clogging things up in the paint.”

Gilchrist said he’s focusing more on defense this year.

“You always want to be a complete basketball player,” he said. “Practice makes perfect. To be multi-dimensional: That is (a focus).”

On offense, Gilchrist’s size makes him dangerous with his shooting ability. The 6-foot-10 power forward has hit eight of his 10 three-point shots, including two Friday.

It caught the eye of FAU coach Mike Jarvis.

“He’s legit. He’s definitely a pro prospect,” Jarvis said. “He’s as good a big man we’ll see all year.”

Senior guard Chris Howard said Gilchrist’s versatility is what sets him apart from other post players.

“I’m not a professional, but I think that’s what makes him a league player, a guy that can get to the next level,” Howard said. “When you’re his height and you can stretch the floor out like that with the pick and roll game, that definitely gives you a chance to play at the next level.”

Heath said his sophomore forward can help USF in many ways.

“I remember the Virginia game where he had to guard a three-man,” Heath said. “He had to play on the perimeter. He’s showing versatility in guarding people away from the basket. His passing has picked up since the beginning of the year. He’s steadily evolving. He’s very talented right now and still has room for improvement.”