Xavier Gibson has been a well known name amongst basketball circles for a minute now. A top-30 recruit coming out of high school in Alabama, expectations were high for him coming to Florida State. Many felt that the 6-11 man-child would come in and star right away for the Seminoles. That wasn’t the case. Leonard Hamilton brought his massive pupil along slowly… Very slowly. After playing a meager 6 minutes per game as a freshman, Gibson’s minutes increased every year since. Even still, as senior, he only played 18 minutes per game. There was plenty of improvement, though, and Gibson sees why things didn’t go quite at the pace that so many expected.
“We were a defensive minded team and I was an offensive minded player, so I had to learn the system,” a soft-spoken Gibson explained about his progression at FSU. “I came along a little bit slower than others, but I felt that I eventually got my shot.”
The shot that he was referring to was a senior season in which the Seminoles exceeded many expectations en route to winning the ACC Tournament by beating both North Carolina and Duke. In fact, Gibson had 16 points in the upset over Duke, throwing his 267 pound frame onto the Plumlee brothers. Though you’re not going to be blown away with his season averages of 7 points and 4 boards per night, Gibson showed off some skills that you just don’t see that often of a player of his stature.
“I’m going to surprise NBA teams with my shooting skills,” he told us throughout his Southern accent. “I have a lot more skills facing the basket than I showed in college.”
Gibson surprised us from the second we walked in the door at Impact Basketball. He was automatic shooting the ball; he had solid form and a feathery touch all the way out to the collegiate three-point line. You could see the makings of a potential pick-and-pop threat down the road. Another thing that you couldn’t help but notice was how big he really was. Approaching 7-foot with a 7-4 wingspan, he’s showed the size to play both the power forward and center positions in the League, though he sees himself as a 4-man provided that he puts in the requisite gym time.
“My strength, rebounding, and tenacity will allow me to play power forward. I just have to keep on working hard,” he told us from the trainer’s table in Las Vegas. “I think a lot of it comes down to my conditioning. I think that the more conditioned I am, the longer I can keep going.”
Consistency and improving his motor will be two things that, with improvement, will allow him to sure himself up as an NBA player. The size and ability to play either front court position make Gibson an intriguing talent. Such a talent that, by the time the Draft rolls around, he will have worked out for close to half of the 30 NBA teams. Gibson is an ideal guy who could develop if placed with the right big man coach, whether it be in the league, D-League, or overseas. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the NBA Draft, the one thing that is certain is that Xavier Gibson will go as far as he wants to go.