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Summer league MVP Gibbs praises McConnell's play

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

A year ago, a young Ashton Gibbs played his way onto the U-19 USA Basketball team and became its starting point guard for the FIBA World Championships in New Zealand.

Gibbs sparked the U.S. team to a gold medal.

When he returned home for the start of his sophomore year at Pitt, he never relaxed, leading the Panthers in scoring and helping them to a 25-9 record and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

A year later, the 6-foot-2 Gibbs has spent the summer before his junior year closer to home playing for Center Court in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am Summer League, where he led the team to the championship with a 104-93 victory over The Lair on Wednesday at Greentree Sportsplex.

And while Gibbs finished with 18 points in the title game and earned the league's MVP award, he came away impressed with another young point guard about to enter into a college career of his own at Duquesne.

T.J. McConnell, the WPIAL's all-time 3-point shooter, is hoping to make a splash on the district scene much like the 3-point specialist Gibbs has done at Pitt.

"It's a big step, but I've been pretty encouraged," McConnell said.

The former Chartiers Valley High School star, who verbally committed to Duquesne in his sophomore season, scored 23 points in a losing cause for The Lair, which was the only team to beat Center Court this year.

"He has a motor," Gibbs said. "He doesn't stop. He doesn't take plays off. You hate to play a guy like him. I was playing really hard. I think was doing a little too much."

McConnell, who was paired with another Pitt star, Gilbert Brown, on The Lair, easily was the most intriguing player of the summer, though Pittsburgh playground legend and former Community College of Beaver County and Brashear High School star Lamar Castile also drew some oohs and ahhs.

McConnell, nonetheless, joined Gibbs and Brown as members of the PBC Pro-Am Division I All-League Team.

"He had a great high school career," Gibbs said. "I had heard a lot about him and now that I've seen him play, I'm impressed. His best years are to come."

Kyle Goldcamp's 21 points led a balanced scoring attack for Center Court in the championship game.

Goldcamp, a Central Catholic product who played at Pitt-Johnstown and Gannon before latching on to the Erie NBA Developmental League, shot 9 for 11 and had nine rebounds.

Brown paced The Lair with 29 points but shot just 9 for 24.

Additional Information:

Seeing stars

Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs was named MVP of the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am Summer League. Here is a look at the Division I All-League Team, led by Gibbs:

Gilbert Brown, Pitt

Eric Evans, Duquesne

Ashton Gibbs, Pitt

Lance Jeter, Nebraska

Russell Johnson, Robert Morris

T.J. McConnell, Duquesne

Gary McGhee, Pitt

J.J. Richardson, Pitt

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