Among his many talents, Jonathan Gilling can beat defenders off the dribble and create his own shot. - Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Though he may not receive the accolades and attention, forward Jonathan Gilling has quietly become a key contributor for the Sun Devils. At 18-6, Arizona State owes much of its success to the hustle and effort of the sophomore from Denmark.
Every quality team has one.
He doesn't make his name lighting up the scoreboard, he probably won't be gaining glory from the highlight reels, and he's not conducting too many postgame interviews.
However, he can be found doing the dirty work. He's the player securing offensive rebounds, drawing late-game charges, and diving for loose balls in the first half.
Though the maroon and gold were expected to finish 11th in the Pac-12 by media experts, the Sun Devils have risen to the occasion and put themselves in contention for an NCAA Tournament berth.
While Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix receive deserved attention for their incredible talents, Jonathan Gilling has quietly assembled a stellar sophomore campaign and become the do-everything warrior the Sun Devils needed.
As a freshman, Gilling found his calling card from beyond the three-point line as 53 of his 69 made field goals came from the perimeter.
This season, the 6-foot-7 forward has been far from a one-trick pony, as his 7.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game are both second on the team.
After spending his youth playing basketball in Denmark, Gilling admits he needed time to adjust to the American style of play.
"With the strength I built up over the summer, it makes it easier to play like I did back home," Gilling said.
Gilling's offseason training has paid off, as his physical play and commitment to conditioning have made him the Sun Devils' go-to defender.
On January 31, the sophomore drew one of his toughest defensive assignments of the season in Washington State forward Brock Motem. The 6-foot-10 Motem exploded for 34 points against the Sun Devils last season, but the crafty Gilling limited him to just 11 points on 3-13 shooting this time around in the Arizona State win.
"I think we did a pretty good job converging on him and it was kind of a low scoring game," Gilling said. "It was key locking him down because he's the heart of their team."
Regardless of whether Gilling is locking down post players like Motem or being asked to defend athletic guards, the forward has a knack for impacting the game on the boards as well.
After recording just 54 rebounds last season, Gilling is on pace to triple his output this year. The sophomore simply wants to help the team in any way he can, and he makes rebounding a priority whenever he takes the court.
"Every team always needs rebounding, I'm focusing on that every game. I didn't before the season," Gilling said. "You don't see many shooters at any level trying to get physical and rebound, but I'm trying to do that for my team."
In his last game, Gilling put together a prototypical glue guy performance. Even though the Sun Devils fell 62-59 to the Stanford Cardinal, Gilling scored 13 points, grabbed five offensive rebounds, dished out five assists, and tacked on two blocks in a determined effort.
For Arizona State to reach the NCAA Tournament, they'll need Carson and Felix to continue to shine under the spotlight. As for Gilling, the Sun Devils will need him to do a little bit of everything.
With his play so far this season, that's not too much to ask.