by Sean Brown | photos courtesy of Pitt Athletic Media Relations

Blue collar, genuine and home grown are apt descriptions of Pitt point guard Ashton Gibbs. So when it came time to get a tattoo, the 6-2 senior came up with something meaningful. A portrait of his family surrounding a basketball, which reads: “They were my rock before I ever played the game.” This ink serves as a reminder of the support the sharpshooting New Jersey native feels from his family and the brotherhood he shares with his fellow Panthers.

For a second summer, this family— including friends, fam and teammates—extended overseas, when Gibbs competed for Team USA in the World University Games in China. “This was another great experience learning about a different culture. This time was tough though because it was my first time losing overseas,” says Gibbs, who averaged 11.6 ppg for the US, which ended up finishing in fifth place with a 7-1 record.

Gibbs’ first go-round overseas occurred when he was selected to play for the gold medal-winning 2009 FIBA U-19 team in New Zealand, so losing is something Gibbs isn’t accustomed to. “Not winning it all was tough, but it showed a lot about our character to compete and end up placing. We left it all out there; that’s all you can ask.”

After contemplating entering the NBA Draft this past spring, the Wooden Award nominee and AP All-American Mention Honorable chose to stay in school, and now he’s preparing for his final season. “I’m working on creating for myself and for others,” says Gibbs, who averaged 16.8 ppg and a shade under 3 apg. “I really want to get my assists up and better my team.”

Returning to a Jamie Dixon-led squad where opposing teams will attempt to force him away from the three-point line, Gibbs will have to find multiple ways to be effective. “I’m focused on expanding my game,” says Gibbs, “but more importantly, winning. I’m not worried about the individual accolades.”