Duke lands former Purdue forward Mason Gillis, reigning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year

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Duke lands former Purdue forward Mason Gillis, reigning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year

Former Purdue forward Mason Gillis has committed to Duke, he announced on social media Monday.

Gillis, the reigning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, has one season of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Gillis becomes Duke’s second transfer portal addition this offseason, as coach Jon Scheyer looks to remake his roster around the nation’s incoming No. 1 recruiting class. The Blue Devils previously landed Syracuse forward Maliq Brown on Saturday. Even with Brown and Gillis in the fold, Scheyer still has three scholarships to fill after seven players from Duke’s Elite Eight squad entered the transfer portal.

Gillis — who shot 46.8 percent from 3 last season, the fourth-best rate amongst all high-major players, per KenPom — is an ideal fit next to incoming freshman wing Cooper Flagg, the best high schooler in America and one of the best NBA prospects of the last decade. While Flagg can shoot, he’s at his best offensively driving and finishing inside, with shooters spacing the floor around him. Gillis does that and is used to being a kick-out man, after playing alongside two-time Wooden Award winner Zach Edey the last two seasons. Defensively, Gillis has the strength to guard opposing forwards, which should free Flagg up defensively to play in more of a roaming role, where he excels.

It also helps that Gillis, who has played in 132 college games and started 63, turns 24 in November. He’ll provide valuable experience and veteran savvy to a Duke roster with six incoming freshmen.

Behind Flagg and Khaman Maluach, a 7-foot-1 center also ranked in the top 10 of most recruiting services, Duke is building what should be one of college basketball’s best defenses next season. Flagg is one of the best shot-blocking high schoolers to come out in some time, and Maluach will provide a level of rim protection the Blue Devils sorely missed this season. Gillis fits well in that respect, too; per CBB Analytics, opponents averaged 5.6 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. (Brown fits, too, as an All-ACC defender last season who averaged 2.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.)

Gillis only played 21.1 minutes per game last season for the Boilermakers, but he was integral to the team’s run to the national championship game. He attempted three times as many 3-pointers (124) as he did 2s (41), and made multiple 3s in 23 of his 39 games. Around Edey, that floor spacing was crucial, and Gillis’ reliability made him a fan favorite.

And if he can fill the same role for Duke this season, he’ll be similarly beloved.

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(Photo: Brett Wilhelm / Getty Images)