Coach: Sterling Gibbs 'comfortable' with Terps
During Bob Farrell's 33 years as Seton Hall Prep's basketball coach, several highly touted point guards have suited up for the Pirates.
Brevin Knight starred at the West Orange, N.J., high school before heading to Stanford and later embarking on a 12-year NBA career. Brandin Knight followed his older brother’s lead by running the show for Seton Hall Prep and then having a standout collegiate career at Pittsburgh, where he’s now an assistant coach.
Years later came Ashton Gibbs, who left Seton Hall Prep as the school’s all-time leading scorer and earned co-MVP honors as a sophomore at Pitt this season.
For the past three seasons, Sterling Gibbs, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior and Ashton’s younger brother, has stepped right in and added to the Pirates’ illustrious point guard tradition. For Farrell -- who taught Gibbs’ father decades earlier and coached both of his sons in a youth basketball camp -- seeing Sterling succeed was no surprise.
“I think we pretty much knew when he was a young kid [that he could be a Division I player],” Farrell said of Sterling, who committed to Maryland on Monday night. “He was always ahead of kids his own age, with better skills and a better sense of the game. I saw his brother develop in the same way. So it really wasn’t a surprise to me that he has developed that way.”
Gibbs, who picked the Terps over offers from Indiana, Florida, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Virginia and Wake Forest, started his Seton Hall Prep career deferring to Ashton, who was a senior at the time. Still, Gibbs made his mark as a sixth man, showing mature-beyond-his-years poise.
“He was a secondary role player [as a freshman], but he made big plays and made some big shots in big games,” Farrell said. “Other guys on the team were carrying the load, but you could see that as a freshman, he had no fear. It didn’t really matter who we were playing against. If the shot was there, he was going to take it. When sophomore year came to a close, he was going to take it. [As a freshman], he realized it wasn’t his show. ... But it was a very seamless [transition the following year]. He just took over the load and directed us to some great success.”
Gibbs, a three-star prospect and the No. 22 point guard in the country according to Scout.com, guided the Pirates to a 26-3 record, including an undefeated conference slate. He averaged 20 points, eight assists and shot better than 80 percent from the foul line.
“He can do what you need him to do,” Farrell said. “We really only had two scorers that we could depend on -- a senior and obviously Sterling. So he kind of morphed into more of a scorer. He was able to get the ball in the basket easily and draw fouls. A lot of games that were close ended up going in our favor because he would get fouled down the stretch and make those foul shots. But he also is a good shooter from 3-point range, so defenses have to play him honestly. I remember we played a team in a tournament that had scouted him and saw him drive to the basket. So they put at 6-6 kid, a very good Division I player, on him, and I think he had 38 points in that game. He must’ve had six or seven 3s. If you lay off him so he can’t drive, you’re going to have to pay that price, too.”
When Gibbs arrives in College Park in the fall of 2011, he’ll have a chance to compete for playing time immediately. Adrian Bowie will have graduated, leaving Gibbs to battle Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin for time.
“He would share minutes as a freshman with those two guys and learn the ropes, pretty much what he did here as a freshman,” Farrell said. “[He’ll] just come off the bench, learn the speed of the game and know what’s involved with the physical aspects of the game in that conference. He certainly will strive to compete for the starting job. But I think he’s realistic enough to know that he’s going to have a learning curve.”
Farrell said he's confident that by Gibbs making an early commitment, any pressure he feels next season will “just melt away.” Farrell, who has a daughter that went to Maryland, said the entire Gibbs family was on board with Sterling’s decision.
“[His parents are] very knowledgeable about the recruiting process, and I know they liked Maryland when Ashton was a senior,” Farrell said. “So when Sterling and I talked [Monday] about Maryland, it kind of triggered back how much they liked Maryland when Ashton was a senior. So I think that probably helped him make the decision. He was very comfortable.”