NEW HAVEN >> Capital Prep senior forward Kiah Gillespie has heard the whispers that she may be overconfident on the court. Despite the murmurs, she ignored them and chose to let her game do the talking.
“I think it’s funny,” she said. “Being overconfident got me three state championships. I think everybody should be a little overconfident, maybe they could get some accolades.”
She may be onto something.
In a season that’s brought Gillespie award after award, the senior was named New Haven Register All-State Most Valuable Player.
“I think I made a really good case in my personal opinion for this award and it feels good that I’m seen as a valuable player, knowing that there’s other great talent in the state of Connecticut,” she said.
And Gillespie’s not just one of the state’s best, but she’s one of the nation’s best, too. She represented the East in the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago. She became the first player to do so since Hillhouse alum Bria Holmes. Gillespie also took home Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year honors for the second straight season and will play in the Jordan Brand Classic.
Gillespie averaged 31.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.7 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game. She scored 42 points and grabbed 22 rebounds to lead her team to its’ third straight state title in a rout of Northwest Catholic and finished her career with 2,208 points as she heads to 2014 Final Four finalist Maryland in the fall.
“This is one of those storybook endings for a great kid,” said Capital Prep coach Tammy Millsaps, “It didn’t start off so well, but things blossomed for her.”
The “not so well” start Millsaps eluded to was a 1-for-9 shooting performance in the 2012 Class S final defeat to Coginchaug.
After the game, Millsaps told the Register’s Chris Hunn “She just wasn’t aggressive. She just wasn’t hungry for the ball. It was a learning moment for Kiah.”
She learned quick.
Gillespie led the Trailblazers to three straight state finals after the 2012 loss, the Trailblazers won all three and have not lost a game to a team in Connecticut since the 2012 loss. Capital Prep routinely plays games out of state. Gillespie’s formula for success after the 2012 loss was simple.
“I like to keep a positive attitude and confidence,” she said. “Confidence is key, If we have a positive mindset in games than we’ll get a positive outcome for the most part.”
Something Millsaps noticed, and agrees with.
“Kiah sure does not lack for confidence,” the coach said. “She is a kid that knows what she wants, what it’s going to take to be successful.”
And to be successful at the next level, playing for a Maryland team that has emerged as one of the best women’s college basketball teams in the country, Gillespie said she knows what she needs to do.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I think my talent is limitless and I can continue to strive and be part of a program that’s doing great things right now.”
Even though her days as a high school basketball player in the state are over, she said she’s glad she could leave the legacy behind she did. She said she is looking forward to seeing how many other players can come out of the state and join her at the Division I level.
“A lot of people don’t think that Connecticut houses very good, talented basketball players,” she said. “I don’t think (Connecticut basketball players) are in competition (with each other), I think we should work together to give Connecticut a good name for good basketball players like the rest of the big time states.”
As long as they all have confidence.