HAMPDEN, Maine — Bridgton Academy bills itself as “The Year that Makes the Difference,” and Hampden Academy basketball star Zach Gilpin hopes that’s the case.
Gilpin, named the state’s 2013-14 Gatorade Player of the Year after leading the Broncos to their third consecutive Eastern Maine Class A championship last winter, said Wednesday the paperwork has been completed and he’ll spend the next academic year playing basketball and studying at the western Maine prep school before heading off to college.
“It will be another year of basketball and it also will be another year of being in Maine and being close to the family if they need anything,” said the 6-foot-5-inch forward. “I’ll be just two hours away for another year before I head out to college.”
A two-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team selection, Gilpin propelled Hampden to the 2013 state championship during his junior season.
Gilpin averaged 23 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last winter in leading the Broncos to a 21-1 record, and he was a finalist for the state’s Mr. Basketball award.
Gilpin was a two-time Eastern Maine Class A tournament most valuable player and two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A player of the year.
He considered several college options during his senior year at Hampden, including scholarship offers from Division II Stonehill College and Franklin Pierce University. He also was accepted at Division III Bates College in Lewiston and expressed interest in attending the University of Maine, though no scholarship offer was forthcoming from the Black Bears.
“I’m definitely hoping the options I’ve had will still be there when I leave Bridgton Academy as well as hopefully a lot more options,” said Gilpin.
Gilpin became familiar with Bridgton Academy through playing this year on an MBNation AAU team coached by Mike Woodbury. Woodbury’s MBNation coaching staff includes Whit Lesure, a longtime New England prep school fixture who serves as head coach at Bridgton Academy.
“I’ve gotten to know him pretty well throughout AAU this year,” said Gilpin of Lesure, “and he seems like a great guy and I’m excited to get the chance to play for him as a head coach.
“I think he’ll be able to teach me a lot of things that hopefully will take my game to the next level.”
Gllpin said his decision to attend Bridgton Academy is largely basketball related. The Wolverines compete in the highest of six classes of competition offered by the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council, Class AAA.
But there were personal considerations in Gilpin’s decision, too.
“A lot of people have their opinions of what I should do and what is best for me, but when it comes down to it I really need to do what’s best for my family and I. I think Bridgton Academy will definitely give me that opportunity, and after I go to Bridgton Academy for a year I’ll definitely go to college.”
The college selection process already has been quite the enlightening experience for Gilpin.
“I would say to another kid who is in this spot that you definitely need to figure out what you want to get from the college experience, whether it’s sports or academics.” he said. “I put academics pretty high up on the list.”