by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13
Since the days when I played with Ashton Gibbs at a Metro Showcase at Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ, I have been an admirer of the way Ash plays the game of basketball. Back then, Gibbs had the size and scoring abilities of a shooting guard yet he also had a great feel for the game when he handled the ball. Playing alongside him was a great experience, and, since those days, I’ve enjoyed following the point guard in his young career.
After a freshman season in which he sat behind one of the best floor leaders, Levance Fields, the 6-2, 190 pound Gibbs didn’t waste any time making a name for himself last season. After a season in which he mostly specialized in shooting threes off the bench, Ash proved that he could handle the rock and lead his team to a winning record (finished the season 25-9 with a second round exit in the NCAA Tournament) while also leading his team in scoring at 15.7 points per contest. He dropped 20+ points on 11 separate occasions including an upset win at Syracuse when the Orange were ranked No. 1 in the country.
It’s safe to that Ashton Gibbs should be a name you commit to memory for the upcoming Big East season.
SLAM: Last year you had a very young Pittsburgh team, yet you guys still had a great year. In the eyes of many, you guys were overachievers because, as you know, the Big East is considered one of the best conferences in the country from top to bottom. How did you guys come together to beat some very talented teams and make the NCAA Tournament?
Ashton Gibbs: We all knew each other’s ability to play. We just stayed confident and stayed close as a team on and off the court and that really helped our chemistry. Only us in that locker knew how good we were and we wanted to prove that.
SLAM: Particularly, how did you almost quadruple your scoring average and look like such a natural leader out there? What did you learn by playing behind Levance Fields a few seasons ago?
AG: Levance taught me to be a floor leader by being vocal in different situations and making right decisions. He was a great player and I’m glad I got to learn from him. With scoring, I just stayed confident in my shot and overall scoring ability and showed everyone. I wanted to improve my conditioning and my overall game, and I am just trying to get better and better.
SLAM: How was your summer as far as training? What are some of the strengths of your game? What are some of the things that you have to work on?
AG: My summer was really good. Went to Ireland with my Pitt team and went 6-0 and played well out there. We look good as a unit. My strengths are shooting and creating for teammates but I think every aspect of my game can get better in its own way.
SLAM: A lot of people don’t know so much about you. I know that you are a willing passer, are very talented as a scorer and that you help your team in lots of other ways from playing with you–you helped me make that All-Star team at that camp, and I know your dimes had a lot to do with it. What else should people know about you on the court?
AG: They should know that I play hard every time I am on the court, and I cannot stand losing at anything I do. I’m very competitive at everything and I think that helps me in a lot of ways.
SLAM: What about off the court? What do you like to do to get you’re mind off the game and just relax?
AG: Off the court I like to just listen to music and hang out with my teammates. We’re all like brothers so were always around each other and that helps us on the court as well.
SLAM: What kind of expectations do you have for the upcoming season, both personally and team wise? How do you think you guys stack up against some of the other teams in the Big East and who do you think is your greatest competition?
AG: I think this is going to be a great year for us and we have the talent to beat anyone. If we play as a team on offense and defense then we will be fine. The individual awards will come if the team does well. I think there isn’t one team that would be our greatest competition because we are in the best conference, the Big East. You have to come to play every day.
SLAM: You can’t stay in college forever, unfortunately. What are your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?
AG: Hopefully, I can be in the NBA with a lot going for myself. NBA isn’t forever so I would like to get into the coaching field or become a broadcaster/analyst.
SLAM: How was Ireland a couple weeks ago?
AG: Ireland was good. It really gave our freshmen to learn a lot about our system, and we got the chance to bond even more as a team. On and off the court it was a really great experience.