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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / December 14.
  • Gibbs Says Don't Underestimate Pitt

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    ENGLEWOOD, N.J. — Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs knows his team is losing four starters from a year ago, but he says it wouldn’t be wise to underestimate the Panthers next season.

    “I think people are definitely underestimating us,” Gibbs, a rising sophomore point guard, said last week at the Joe Brown Memorial tournament. “We’re bringing a lot back. We lost four starters but we’re bringing a lot back, a lot of reserves back. We’re the same team that went at the starters  in practice last year so we know we can play against some of the best players in the country.”

    After earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Pitt fell in the Elite Eight to Big East rival Villanova on a last-second driving layup by Scottie Reynolds.

    Pitt then saw forwards Sam Young and DeJuan Blair get chosen in the NBA Draft. Point guard Levance Fields, he of the big shot, also hopes to latch on with an NBA team. Forward Tyrell Biggs is also gone.

    But the Panthers return an experienced core in Gibbs, 6-10 center Gary McGhee, 6-6 wing Gilbert Brown, 6-4 guard Brad Wanamaker and 5-11 guard Travon Woodall, who starred at St. Anthony for Bob Hurley but then took a redshirt last season. 6-5 guard Jermaine Dixon is out with a broken bone in his foot, but is expected back in September.

    Pitt also returns sophomore big men Dwight Miller and Nasir Robinson, and Jamie Dixon’s recruiting class features McDonald’s All-American big man Dante Taylor of Greenburgh, N.Y.

    Dixon and Gibbs teamed up to help the USA win the FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this month.

    Gibbs averaged 9.4 points, 2.4 assists and a team-leading 22.6 minutes per game.

    “It was a great experience, man,” Gibbs said.  “It was my first time out of the country. Not only on the court, but off the court just dealing with that lifestyle and seeing how that environment is, they showed the USA a lot of love.”

    Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” and Gibbs said he enjoyed a lot of “fish and chips”

    Gibbs roomed with Tyshawn Taylor, the current Kansas and former St. Anthony guard who made the All-Tournament team.

    “We had a bond before this actual team, but now we got even closer just him being my roommate and playing together as well and winning a gold medal,” Gibbs said. “He’s going to be a great player. Kansas is supposed to be top 5 in the country this year so he’s definitely going to help them out.”

    He added: “The way he played, he looked like a pro.”

    Gibbs and the U.S. also downed a Puerto Rico team that featured Rutgers guard Mike Rosario. Rosario was coming off a 54- point outing against France, but the USA held him to 11 points in the win.

    “We definitely couldn’t let that happen [54 points],” Gibbs said. “He didn’t play bad against us, he just missed a lot of tough shots. And that’s what he wanted him to do.”

    Gibbs was at the Joe Brown tournament watching his younger brother Sterling play for the New York Panthers.

    A slew of coaches were on hand to recruit Sterling, including Rutgers head coach Fred Hill, St. Joe’s assistant Phil Martelli, Pitt assistant Brandin Knight, Seton Hall assistant Kevin Murphy, Providence assistant Pat Skerry and St. John’s assistants Oz Cross and Chris Casey.

    “He likes Villanova but I don’t think he really has a leader,” Ashton said of his brother. “Everything’s wide open. Hopefully he comes to a decision soon.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.