The Yellow Jackets will look to avenge a 76-57 loss last year to Southern California in Los Angeles. The Trojans won the Pac-10 Tournament last year on their way to qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. This year's team will hardly resemble last season, however, as...[details]
HEADER TAJ GIBSON Power Forward University of Southern California Trojans #22 6:08.4-214 Brooklyn, New York Calvary Christian High School Stoneridge Preparatory Telecommunications High School
OVERVIEW The well-traveled Gibson put a lot of mileage on his luggage before storing his suitcases in the dormitory closet at Southern California. Regarded as one of the most physical forwards in the collegiate game, he was honored by the Pac-10 Conference coaches last season, earning league Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Gibson's wingspan (7-feet, 4-inches), standing reach (9-1) and leaping ability (38.5-inch vertical jump) have been a great benefit for him on the defensive end. He shattered the school career-record with 253 blocked shots, the third-highest total in Pac-10 Conference history. He became just the fifth player in conference annals to register at least 100 blocks in a season (2008-09) and ranks second on the school career-record list with 896 rebounds.
However, his aggressive defense does come at a price. His 21 game disqualifications rank third in school history and his 328 personal fouls placed him sixth on the Trojans' all-time list. His 107 turnovers as a freshman tied for fifth on the school single-season record chart and his 260 turnovers rank fifth on USC's career record chart.
Gibson is much more than a defensive presence. The lineup mainstay performed for 3,435 minutes through 105 games during his career, ranking sixth on the school all-time record list. His 60.1 percent shooting from the field in 2008-09 ranks second and his 58.0 percent field goal success rate in 2007-08 rank third on the Trojans' single-season record chart.
His 58 percent shooting from the floor is the second-best career mark in school history. He became the 33rd player to reach 1,000 points as a Trojan, ranking 16th all-time with 1,307 points. Gibson's dominance on the boards is evident, as he registered at least 10 rebounds in a game 36 times during his career, producing 32 double-double performances in the process.
The Brooklyn, New York native did quite a bit of traveling after his freshman season at local Telecommunications High School. He spent his sophomore and junior years in the new-found program at Stoneridge Prep, where he averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks per game during his career at the school.
As a senior, Gibson enrolled at Calvary Christian High School. The team ended up having an abbreviated season, just competing in the Prep Stars of North America tournament held in London,Canada, where Gibson helped lead them to the consolation championship.
Despite not playing in a full schedule, he was rated the seventh-best power forward and the 32nd player overall by RivalsHoops. USA Today ranked the forward as the 33rd-best prospect in the country. He was also invited to the Newbury Park Basketball Association (NPBA) Top 100 Camp prior to his senior season and finished fourth in scoring with a 17.1 average for the week.
Gibson, at age 22, was the oldest freshman in the Pac-10 Conference during his first season at Southern California. The Pac-10 All-Freshman team choice started all 37 games for the Trojans in 2006-07. He set the USC freshman rebound record with 321 and the freshman blocks record with 69. He also ranked among the school's freshman top five in free throws attempted (1st), free throws made (3rd), points (4th), field goal percentage (T-4th) and rebound average (2nd).
Gibson had 11 double-doubles, one of five freshman in the country with that many, joining among others Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, who were the top two picks in the 2007 NBA Draft. Gibson had at least eight rebounds in 27 of 37 games, scored in double figures in 27 of 37 games and scored at least eight points in 34 of 37 games.
As a sophomore, Gibson was a third-team All-Pac-10 selection and first-team member of the Pac-10 All-Defensive team. He averaged 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 33 games (32 starts), leading USC in rebounds (259), blocks (83) and field-goal percentage (.580).
He led the Pac-10 in blocks and was third in field-goal percentage (tops in Pac-10 games only at .667). His 83 blocks set the USC single-season record and his .580 field-goal percentage is second all-time for a season at USC. He also had five double-double performances.
In 2008-09, Gibson was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year, adding second-team All-Pac 10 accolades. He started all 34 games, ranking third in the conference with 316 rebounds, the sixth-best total in school history. He led the league and broke his own school single-season record with 100 blocks. His 500 points scored rank 20th on USC's annual record list, as he hit on 60.1 percent of his field goal attempts, the second-best season mark in school history.
2008-09 SEASON All-Pac 10 Conference second-team selection and named the league's Defensive Player of the Year...Started all 35 games at power forward, scoring a career-high 500 points (14.3 ppg), as he shot 190 of 316 from the field...His field-goal percentage of .601 ranks second on the school single-season record list...Also made 120 of 182 free throw chances (65.9 percent)...Led the Trojans with 316 rebounds (9.0 rpg), ranking 33rd in the nation in that category, while his total rank sixth on the USC annual record list...Handed out 44 assists (1.3 apg) and had 34 steals (1.0 spg)...Broke his own school record with 100 blocked shots, the fifth-best season total in league history...His average of 2.9 blocks per game ranked fifth in the nation and led the Pac-10...Charged with 72 turnovers and 103 personal fouls, as he disqualified from six contests...Scored in double figures 30 times and had at least 10 rebounds in 16 games, producing 15 double-double performances...Had a string of at least one rebound in a game snapped at 104 contests, as he did not have any boards for the only time in his career in his final contest, vs. Michigan State in the 2009 NCAA Tournament...Named to the Pac-10 All-Tournament team.
2007-08 SEASON All-Pac 10 Conference third-team selection, earning league All-Defensive first-team honors, as Gibson started 32 of 33 games at power forward for the Trojans...Led the Pac-10 and set a then school single-season record with 84 blocked shots, ranking 22nd in the nation with an average of 2.5 blocks per game...His field-goal percentage of .5797 ranked third in the league and was the third-best percentage by a Trojan in a season (hit on 138 of 238 attempts)...Also made 79 of 133 free throws (59.4 percent) for a total of 355 points (10.8 ppg)...Recorded 43 assists (1.3 apg), 23 steals (0.7 spg), 81 turnovers and 115 personal fouls, leading the league with eight disqualifications...His 259 rebounds (7.8 rpg) rank 16th on the school single-season record list...Registered five double-double performances and had at least ten rebounds in seven games.
2006-07 SEASON Named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and honorable mention Freshman All-American by Collegehoops.net...Selected to the Pac-10 Conference All-Tournament team, as he scored 36 points and had 29 rebounds in the three games...Started all 37 games as a true freshman, logging 1,198 minutes of action, as Gibson scored 452 points (12.2 ppg), shooting 55.8 percent from the field (174 of 312) and 62.3 percent from the foul line (104 of 167)...Led the team with 321 rebounds (8.7 rpg), a freshman single-season record and it also ranks fifth on USC's overall annual record list...Handed out 55 assists (1.5 apg), but led the Trojans with 107 turnovers, tying for the fifth-highest season total in school annals...Charged with 110 personal fouls, as he was disqualified from seven contests...Added 20 steals (0.5 spg), setting the school freshman record with 69 blocked shots (1.9 bpg), the fifth-best overall season total in USC history...Had at least 10 rebounds in 13 games, producing 12 double-double performances...Scored in double figures in his first five collegiate games, the most consecutive to start a Trojan career since Tom Lewis did it the first nine games in the 1985-86 season.
CAREER NOTES Gibson started all but one of the 105 games he played in for the Trojans, as his 3,435 minutes logged rank sixth in school history...Became the 33rd player in school history to score at least 1,000 points, ranking 16th on the career record list with 1,307 points...His 500 points scored in 2008-09 rank 20th on the USC single-season record list...Made 502 of 866 field goals, as his percentage of .5797 rank second on Trojans annals, topped only by Jeff McMillan (.5824, 219 of 376, 2003-05)...His field-goal percentage of .5798 in 2007-08 rank third on the school single-season record list and his percentage of .6012 in 2008-09 rank second, topped by McMillan's .6296 mark (119 of 189) in 2003-04...Connected on 303 of 482 free throws (62.9 percent)...Pulled down 896 rebounds during his career, second in school history behind Ron Riley (1,067 in 78 games, 1970-72) and tied with Dan Gadzuric of UCLA (1999-2002) for 27th place on the Pac-10 Conference record books...His 321 rebounds in 2006-07 rank fifth on the USC single-season record list, while his 259 boards in 2007-08 rank 16th and 316 grabs in 2008-09 rank sixth...His average of 8.53 rebounds per game placed him eighth in school annals...Holds the school career record with 253 blocked shots, topping the previous mark of 195 by Sam Clancy (1999-2002)...Those blocks also rank third in conference history behind Anthony Cook of Arizona (278, 1986-89) and Channing Frye of Arizona (258, 2002-05)...Set the school single-season record with 100 blocked shots in 2008-09, breaking his own mark of 84 the previous season...Also became just the fifth player in Pac-10 history to register 100 blocks in a season, joining Mario Bennett of Arizona State (115 in 1994-95), Rodger Farrington of Arizona State (113 in 1996-97), Jelani McCoy of UCLA (102 in 1995-96) and Loren Woods of Arizona (102 in 1999-2000)...Gibson also etched his name on some of the school's more dubious record charts, as his 260 turnovers rank fifth in USC history and his 107 turnovers in 2006-07 tied Stais Boseman (1995-96) for fifth-highest in a season by a Trojan...His 11 turnovers vs. Kansas in 2007 set the USC single-game record...His 328 personal fouls rank sixth on the school career record list...Also ranks third all-time with 21 disqualifications, topped by only Rod Keller (23, 1984-87) and Maurice Williams (22, 1979-82)...Blocked a career-high seven shots vs. Oregon in 2007, tying Clancy (vs. California in 2001) and Avondre Jones (vs. George Mason in 1995) for fourth on the school single-game record list...Recorded at least 10 rebounds in 36 games, producing 32 double-double performances...Had at least one rebound in each of his first 104 games before being shut out in his final contest, vs. Michigan State in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
HIGH SCHOOL Gibson attended three different high schools during his prep days...Spent his freshman season at Telecommunications (Brooklyn, N.Y.) High...Spent his sophomore and junior years in the new-found program at Stoneridge Preparatory (Simi Valley, Cal.), where he averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks per game during his career...As a senior, Gibson enrolled at Calvary Christian High School...The team ended up having an abbreviated season, just competing in the Prep Stars of North America tournament held in London, Canada, where he helped lead them to the consolation championship...Despite not playing in a full schedule, he was rated the seventh-best power forward and the 32nd player overall by RivalsHoops...USA Today ranked the forward as the 33rd-best prospect in the country.
INJURY REPORT 2008-09 Season: Played 38 minutes vs. Stanford (1/26), scoring 20 points with two blocked shots, despite being diagnosed with pneumonia.
OTHER TOURNAMENTS/TEAMS SUMMER: Gibson was invited to the Newbury Park Basketball Association (NPBA) Top 100 Camp before his senior season and finished fourth in scoring with a 17.1 average for the week.
PERSONAL Communications major...Father played basketball for the U.S. Army national team during the Vietnam War...Born 6/24/85 in Brooklyn, New York.
SCOUTING REPORT Positives: Gibson might lack the size, strength and athleticism you look for in a power forward, but he's extremely aggressive on the defensive end and with his impressive wingspan (7-feet, 4 inches) and standing reach (9'1"), he has been very effective establishing his position in the paint...His almost 39-inch vertical jump also comes into play, as he excels at contesting shots, ranking third in league history while holding the school record with 253 blocks (2.4 bpg) to his credit...Physical presence at both ends of the court, especially when working in the paint, as he shows adequate inside/outside scoring ability and is an aggressive rebounder (ranks second in school history with 896 boards (304 from the offensive glass, scoring at a 74.6 percent rate on his put-backs)...Excellent leaper who elevates quickly, using his timing and length to contest shots...Still working on improving his shooting with his left hand, but does a nice job turning and spinning to his left shoulder, demonstrating a soft touch around the rim...Has an effortless shooting stroke and even bigger forwards struggle to contest his shot, thanks to his high release...Has developed a consistent post-up game and is very comfortable executing his shot when facing the basket...Needs to add more bulk and strength, but did show up at the Chicago pre-draft camp with minimal body fat (needs to add at least another 10-15 pounds to his frame)...Has large, soft hands that are effective in catch-and-shoot situations...Savvy performer working in the post, doing a good job establishing his position, using his frame effectively to seal and box out...Does a good job of reading the bounce and getting up above the rim to pull down the offensive boards...Runs the floor like a two-guard and has the perimeter quickness and lateral agility to defend vs. multiple positions...Gets into foul trouble when he loses focus, but the staff prefers him being aggressive rather than playing passive and letting the shooter slash on him...Has the leaping ability to finish at the basket, doing a good job of getting his feet off the floor vs. taller defenders...His mid-range game started to develop some as a senior, as he became more involved in pick-and-roll type of plays...Lacks range with his jumper, but has had very good success around the basket when he utilizes quick drop steps when posting up and has developed a decent mini hook that gets good elevation and arc from his high release...Has adequate ball handling skills (142 assists and 77 steals in 105 games), but is quite effective taking his man off the dribble...Runs the floor well and his ball theft totals indicate that he can be disruptive operating in the passing lane.
Negatives: Needs to play with a little less aggression, as he is prone to getting out of control attacking the shooter, leading to a high amount of foul issues (328 fouls and 21 disqualifications in 105 games)...Needs to add more bulk to his wiry 214-pound frame (played at 225 as a senior, but reduced that total to show off his quickness at the Chicago pre-draft camp), in addition to improving his overall muscle tone (has a soft body)... Adequate ball handler, but needs to be more selective with his shots, as he gets into turnover problems when he puts the ball on the floor too long (260 turnovers in 105 games)...Has just adequate size for a power forward, but with adequate shooting mechanics and a marginal jump shot from mid range, along with no perimeter shooting skills, he would be a liability at small forward at the next level...Must smooth out his shooting mechanics, as he tends to push his jump shot forward from his chest (also shoots with a noticeable hitch, as he cocks his elbow too much) and must work on setting his feet better before shooting...Is much older than most players in his graduating class, having begun college at age 22...Can be caught "looking" at times, as he does not have the greatest basketball IQ on the court and will bite on effective pump fakes and hesitation moves (gets to a point where he tries to overanalyze things rather than just act on the play instinctively).
Compares To: TYRUS THOMAS, Chicago -- Gibson may not pass the eye test with his smaller than ideal, wiry frame that lacks good muscle tone, but with his aggressive nature, long arms and leaping ability, he has been a rebounding force on both ends of the court. He times his leaps perfectly to contest shots or slam the ball in with a resounding dunk. However, he will get out of control trying to attack the man rather than the ball, leading to his high amount of personal fouls and game disqualifications. He does a good job of establishing his position under the basket and his face-up game has shown signs of improvement. Still, he's older than any other junior in this class.