Colorado Springs, Colo. • August 11, 2010
Forget about basketball being a possible meal ticket. For Sterling Gibbs, it might as well be a plane ticket.
By the end of the Youth Olympic Games on August 26, when Gibbs will return from Singapore to his home in Scotch Plains, N.J., the 6-foot-2 point guard from Seton Hall Prep will have traveled roughly 20,000 miles over the last two summers – all for hoops.
In 2009, Gibbs first played for the Gordon-Hanley All Stars, a New York City-based team sponsored by the Detroit Pistons’ Ben Gordon, which won the La Roche-sur-Yon Championship in France that April. Then in June, Gibbs helped lead the USA U16 National Team to a 5-0 finish and the gold medal in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Mendoza, Argentina, where he averaged 9.2 points and 2.8 assists per game and led the tournament field with a 7.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Before Gibbs and his teammates left for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore on Tuesday, USA Basketball talked with the point guard about the team’s recent stop in New York to see the finalists for the Men’s World Championship Team, training for the Games in Springfield, Mass., and the basketball travels of both he and his brother, Pitt junior Ashton Gibbs.
How was your day in New York?
We watched the National Team practice, then we just toured around the area. It was a great experience just seeing Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant and all the guys … being able to talk with them. They encouraged us to keep doing what we’re doing. It was definitely a good thing.
Did the World Championship Team finalists and the Select Team treat you guys well?
Yeah, everyone was happy to be at the practice. We got into a huddle and they clapped it up for us, asked us questions and everything. All the guys were just encouraging us and asking what we were doing.
You also got to tour the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame while you were training in Springfield, right?
Yeah, we got to tour the whole thing and see the Hall of Fame. I’ve never been there before, so it was definitely a great experience.
With only four players, who did you practice against in Springfield?
We were practicing against college kids, from Springfield College, I think. They were actually really good, and they helped us get better and understand the game more.
You were on last year’s USA U16 National Team with 11 other teammates. Are you closer with your teammates now that there are only four of you on the Youth Olympic Games Team?
Even last year with the 12 players, we were all buddies. But now we got to know each other a lot better and understand each other more because there aren’t as many people on the team. And we’ve gotten to know the girls team a lot and become cool with them.
Do you have any idea what to expect in Singapore?
I have no clue, to be honest. I just want to see something new. Every summer in the U.S., it’s the same thing, the same tournaments every year. It’s the same thing every year. To get the chance to see something different, that’s going to be a great experience.
What can you take from your USA U16 Team experience last year and apply to this tournament?
I would say just staying together. As long as we stay together, we’ll be able to win the gold. With the Argentina team, we stuck together. We were just like brothers, through thick and thin. If we do the same thing here, we’ll able to accomplish something big.
Your brother, Ashton, went to New Zealand with the USA U19 World Championship Team and won gold last summer, too. Do you compare notes on your experiences?
Yeah, he had a lot of fun in New Zealand, and he just got back from Ireland with Pittsburgh. He’s been traveling a lot, and he showed me pictures of New Zealand and how much fun they had. He gives me good tips about the game over there and what not. So going into it, I think I’m a little more comfortable with it already. So, we’ll see how it goes.
You’re committed to play at Maryland in 2011. Ashton plays at Pitt. Pitt and Maryland play each other this season at Madison Square Garden in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. Who are you rooting for?
(Laughs) I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to go with my Maryland shirt and my Pitt hat.