ASHEVILLE – Halei Gillis was told she would never play basketball again at a high level after her right knee was opened up three times.
Good thing she didn’t listen between all those surgeries.
The former Citizen-Times All-WNC center and Carolina Day senior recently committed to Fordham University in New York City.
“It’s exciting and cool. I don’t really have a great word to describe what I’m feeling,” Gillis said.
“(Basketball) is a really high priority at Fordham, and I liked that. I really liked the academic offerings and everything about the program.”
Gillis tore the meniscus in her knee twice, and actually had parts from a cadaver inserted during one of the surgeries.
You would never know it after watching the 6-foot-4 post player average 11.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game last winter for the six-time defending NCISAA 2-A champion Wildcats (28-2). Gillis was rewarded with spots on the NCISAA 2-A all-state, All-Carolinas Athletic Association and Citizen-Times All-WNC teams.
Gillis has played for Carolina Day since she was in the eighth grade.
She hopes to major in either pre-health or communications at Fordham, and will have a good bit of familiarity with at least one teammate. Wildcats senior guard Ralene Kwiatkowski also committed to Fordham last week.
Gillis is optimistic about the Wildcats’ chances of hanging a state-championship banner for a seventh straight season.
“It’s going to be different with some of the players we lost,” she said.
“But it’s exciting, too. Hopefully we can mix in all the new talent and do our best.”
Basketball is not the only thing that Gillis thrives at.
She is a two-time NCISAA track champion in the discus. Gillis was named to last spring’s All-WNC track team with an area-best throw of 124 feet, 6 inches. Gillis was also the runner-up to teammate Mikayla Ray in the shot put (36-3) at their state meet.