Pitt Basketball: More On Ashton Gibbs And The NBA Draft

No, I've got to admit that I didn't see this one coming. In all the talks about the lineup for next season, I never saw this as a realistic possibility.

Sure, I toyed with the notion of Gibbs possibly entering the draft, but never really gave it much thought - mostly because I didn't think there was any chance of it happening.

The fascinating thing is that the more I think about it, the more I could really see him going. Is he a top prospect? No, not really. At 6'2", he's a bit undersized for the prototypical NBA shooting guard. He's not freakishly athletic and his game doesn't really say 'next level' to me. He's an adequate, but not great defender and while he increased his ability to create his own shot, he still has some work to do in that department.

So why go?

Well, when you look at guys like Sam Young and DeJuan Blair, and even football player Lesean McCoy, there are three pretty good exampes of guys falling in the draft lower than we thought they would. Thing is, they all are doing just fine now and were able to earn money a year sooner.

Plus, I don't think the Butler game helped. Gibbs learned first-hand that advancing in the NCAA tournament is harder than it looks. He saw that even while Pitt played a decent game, they were still upset before they could even reach the second weekend - let alone the third. That's gotta be tough. Sure, you can enjoy the regular season to a degree, but the fact that you work your butt off all year and it's considered a disappointment because you can't get to a Final Four (all while not getting paid for it) has to be a little tough to swallow.

And you can throw in the fact that Gibbs is a year younger now than he would be next year and will be more attractive to teams as a junior.

Lastly, just how much can Gibbs improve? He improved his play this season and showed he can hit clutch shots over the course of his career. His shooting improved greatly, going from 40% to 47% from the field and his three-point percentage went from 39% - 49%. Those are huge jumps and the odds are that those percentages would drop next year instead of go up.

Gibbs could, of course, improve in some of the areas I mentioned above if he came back to school. But, well, there's plenty of reason for him to leave if he thinks he would get drafted.

Another interesting aspect about this is the fact that Pitt is two over the scholarship limit. Did Jamie Dixon know this could be a possibility when he was recruiting for next season? Who really knows. If Gibbs did happen to leave, it would help the scholarship issue, but no one in their right mind would rather have that problem lessened instead of losing the team's best player.

So what's the verdict?

Well, CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish hears Gibbs is likely coming back. Meanwhile, his colleague, Jeff Borzello hears otherwise ... reportedly directly from Gibbs:

Ashton Gibbs tells me via text that he's leaning towards staying in the draft.

He then later tweeted:

"Bad news from the NBA," Gibbs said on what it would take for him to go back to school. "As far as not going first or second round."

I like Parrish and of course Gibbs could change his mind, but I've got to take Borzello's side on this one since he heard directly from Gibbs rather than an 'anonymous source.'

Then you've got what his father says:

"He's going to test the waters," said Temple Gibbs, Ashton's father. "I think he is doing it to get feedback, where he might fall in the draft, if not for this year then for next year. A lot of kids have this option and go through the process. If he doesn't get the feedback he wants, then he'll definitely be back. He can pull his name back."

Okay, so does Gibbs have a chance of being drafted? Well, one scout thinks its a good idea for him to test the waters:

 

"I think it's a good idea for Ashton Gibbs," said one NBA scout, who requested anonymity because his team prohibits him from publicly discuss college players. "He had a hell of a year. It's not going to hurt him, and I think it could help him."

Most of the draft sites don't have updates out since Gibbs has announced his intentions, but my favorite NBA Draft site, NBADraft.net, has him as a second rounder to undrafted- even saying it's likely he goes undrafted.

My thoughts? I don't know - for some reason I think he's gone. I really hope I'm wrong on this one and we all know that wouldn't be the first time. But I've just got a hunch that's it for him.


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