Pitt's Gibbs to get NBA draft feelers

| Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Junior point guard Ashton Gibbs will toss his name into the 2011 NBA Draft, but that doesn't mean his days at Pitt are over.

Gibbs' father, Temple, said his son plans to declare for early entry to get feedback from NBA teams and a feel for the draft process but won't hire an agent. That would allow him to return to school if he's not content with what NBA scouts say about his draft situation.

"It would be to see what it is like," Temple Gibbs said Tuesday. "From what I know, he was thinking about (declaring). But he wouldn't hire an agent, without a doubt."

As of yesterday, Ashton Gibbs still hadn't declared for early entry, said Pitt basketball media relations director Greg Hotchkiss. Gibbs could not be reached for comment, and Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, who is traveling, did not return phone messages.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Gibbs, who led Pitt in scoring each of the past two seasons, has until April 24 to file paperwork with the NBA.

Provided he maintains his amateur status, Gibbs can withdraw his name anytime before the May 8 deadline without losing NCAA eligibility. The two-round NBA draft is June 23.

News that Gibbs will declare came as a surprise. The Scotch Plains, N.J., native is a first-team all-Big East selection who led Pitt in scoring each of the past two seasons, but is regarded as a late second-round pick in 2012 — following his senior year — by many popular NBA mock draft websites.

Another factor is the NBA's labor troubles that may threaten the 2011-12 season.

Gibbs, however, has nothing to lose. By declaring early, Gibbs would have a two-week window to attend workouts — taking advantage of a three-year-old rule that allows NBA teams to pay for the travel expenses of underclassmen — and gauge his stock in a 2011 draft that is considered weak.

"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."

Gibbs, who averaged 16.8 points this season for Pitt (28-6), is one of the top pure shooters in the nation. He made a school-record 102 3-pointers this season while shooting 49 percent from behind the arc. He possesses a quality in demand in the NBA. On the down side, he is undersized for the position and isn't regarded as an NBA-caliber athlete.

If Gibbs stays in the draft, he would be the third Pitt player in the past six years to leave early. Chris Taft and DeJuan Blair departed after their sophomore seasons in 2005 and 2009, respectively. Both were drafted in the second round. Back problems ultimately forced Taft out of the league. Blair is averaging 8 points and 7 rebounds for the San Antonio Spurs, who own the NBA's best record.

Aaron Gray declared after his junior season and went through the pre-draft process but returned for his senior year. Sam Young flirted with the idea but decided not to test the waters after his junior season.

Last year nearly half of the NCAA's early-entry candidates — 48 out of 98 — withdrew their names before the deadline. Of those who remained, 36 were picked and 14 went undrafted.

Additional Information:

Testing the waters

Here are some of the top underclassmen guards who have declared • or are expected to declare • for early entry into the 2011 NBA Draft:

Kyrie Irving, Duke: Fr., 6-2, 175 • Projected to go in top 5#

Alec Burks, Colorado: So. 6-6, 185 • Top 10

Kemba Walker, Connecticut: Jr. 6-0, 179 ? Top 15-20

* Malcolm Lee, UCLA: Jr. 6-5, 180 • Early 2nd round

* Darius Morris, Michigan St.: So. 6-4, 190 • Early 2nd round

* Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh: Jr. 6-2, 190 • Not rated

* • Already declared

# • Projected by NBADraft.net

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