Pitt will once again be represented by the Zoo Crew in this year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament, and although its roster already includes former Pitt standouts like Tyrell Biggs, Gilbert Brown, Jermaine Dixon, Levance Fields, Antonio Graves and Gary McGhee, the alumni team announced Wednesday that it is attempting to add former star Ashton Gibbs as well.
Gibbs was listed on the Zoo Crew roster in 2017 but was ultimately unavailable to play in the first game of the tournament. In his absence, the team seemed a bit one-dimensional, as Fields poured in 35 points while only two other members of the team reached double-digit point totals.
Despite Fields’ efforts, the team fell to Sideline Cancer 100-87, but one has to wonder how the squad of former Panthers might have fared if Gibbs, one of the program’s most dynamic scorers in recent memory, had taken the court alongside Fields, who averaged 5.8 assists per game in the final three seasons of his career at Pitt and contributed six to the 13-point loss last July.
In his three years as a starter for the Panthers between 2009 and 2012, Gibbs averaged 15.6 points, 2.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds while playing 34.0 minutes per game. Playing in Belgium last season, he averaged 14.0 points, 1.7 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per game.
Unfortunately, the Zoo Crew faces a hurdle in adding Gibbs, as the decision to bring him aboard came after June 1. According to TBT rules, initial rosters must be submitted to tournament officials by that date, and any addendums to the roster after that point come with at least a $1,000 player registration fee. As a result, the team is raising money to foot the bill for Gibbs.
“The Zoo Crew is ... looking to add another Pitt great to the team,” wrote Zoo Crew general manager Aron Minkoff in a GoFundMe post. “Because it is after the June 1 deadline to add players, it costs $1,000 to add an additional player to our team. All money raised will go directly to fund Ashton Gibbs joining the Zoo Crew for The Basketball Tournament 2018.”
Minkoff added that if the goal is exceeded, the additional funds will go toward further personnel additions and travel expenses, and donors are invited to meet the players after the team’s first game, which is set for July 20 in Columbus, Ohio. This time around, the seventh-seeded Zoo Crew will face the 10th-seeded Jackson TN Underdawgs in the opening round.
As of 7 a.m. on Friday, the team had raised $195 of the $1,000 needed to add Gibbs. Those who wish to contribute can do so at the Zoo Crew’s GoFundMe page.