Like any standout athlete, Scotch Plains resident Sterling Gibbs wants the ball – especially when the game’s on the line. And in Saturday’s matchup between Seton Hall Prep and Union, he proved no different.
Late in the fourth quarter, after Union closed to within two points of Seton Hall Prep, Gibbs took a pass from teammate Dallas Anglin and calmly sank a 3-pointer from the left side to put Seton Hall Prep back up by five.
“That shot was the biggest play,” Union head coach Tony DiGiovanni said.
Later, with just five seconds to go in the game, Gibbs made two consecutive free throws for the final points of a hard-fought 57-53 non-conference win. Gibbs led all scorers with 23 points and scored 10 of Seton Hall Prep’s 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“We knew we were going to be in for a tough game against a good team like Union,” Gibbs said.
The West Orange parochial school won its sixth straight to improve to 9-2. Union’s three-game win streak was snapped, and the team fell to 7-4. But even with Seton Hall Prep’s win over Union – secured by Gibbs’ own points late in the game – the standout student-athlete discussed the ways he felt he and his team could have improved.
“We could have executed our offense a bit better,” Gibbs said. “When we do that, like in practice, it’s very difficult for teams to stop us. That’s what makes us Seton Hall Prep.”
Gibbs, a six-foot-one, 180-pound senior, is Seton Hall Prep’s leading scorer, averaging more than 20 points per game. After graduation, he will continue competing on the court at the University of Maryland, to which he signed a letter-of-intent as soon as the signing period began in November.
When Gibbs arrives on campus this fall, he will join his older brother, Ashton, in Division I basketball. A junior at the University of Pittsburgh, Ashton leads the Pittsburgh Panthers with a team-high 16-point-per-game average, and has turned heads as a viable NBA prospect. Sterling, however, has kept his eyes on his own ball, and has expressed a deep-seated desire to excel in the NCAA's Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I want to beat Duke and North Carolina,” Gibbs said. “At first, Big East schools had the edge, especially with my brother at Pitt. I kind of knew, though, by my sophomore year that I wanted to go to Maryland and play for coach [Gary] Williams. I just didn’t want to rush it.”
Sterling added that Maryland’s campus – only a few hours from home – and the team’s tight-knit community appealed to him.
ESPN College Basketball Recruiting gives Gibbs a “Scouts Grade” of 91 – three stars out of five – and ranks him as the 23rd-best high school point guard in the country.
“Gibbs is a tough and competitive player who has worked hard to develop his point guard skills,” the scouting report states. “…Gibbs has gone from an undersized two-guard to a dependable point guard who sees the court, distributes the ball, can make plays for himself and others and only occasionally gets caught up in working too hard for his own offense.”
That selfless quality was evidenced by his play against Union on Saturday. Gibbs frequently dished the ball to teammates, demonstrating that he derived just as much satisfaction from setting-up baskets as he did actually scoring them. He finished with five assists, tying teammate Spencer Weisz for the most assists that game.
“Gibbs does such a great job of creating and connecting,” DiGiovanni said.
Look for one of the state’s best players to keep on creating and connecting for Seton Hall Prep this winter, which will mean many more wins for the Pirates – and maybe a championship.