Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 25 Player Countdown. Each day, we publish a new article counting down the 25 best players in the Atlantic 10 this past season. Today, we feature #2 Jack Gibbs.
Davidson’s rising senior guard Jack Gibbs can be described with one word: invaluable. Actually, he can be described with many: indispensable, consistent, electrifying, irreplaceable, and exciting, just to name a few. But invaluable sticks out because of how Gibbs works both as the point guard and the primary scorer in Bob McKillop’s offensive system at Davidson. He was crucial to Davidson’s success in 2015-16, and will be next season. This past year, Gibbs established himself not only one of the best players in the Atlantic 10, but in the entire country.
Trying to narrow down a singular performance by Jack Gibbs from the 2015-16 season and call it his best performance was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made – there are just so many great games. So, I’ve decided to punt, and share a few.
To say that Jack Gibbs started the year on a high note would be an understatement: he stamped his name on the 2015-16 season as one of the premier players in the Atlantic 10 after just one game, where he scored 35 points in a Davidson win over Central Florida. However, in the grand scheme of things, that performance wasn’t even particularly noteworthy – that just shows how amazing Gibbs’ season was. The quick point guard eclipsed 30 points on 9 occasions after that initial game against UCF. One of the most memorable performances was against UNC Charlotte – Davidson’s cross-town rival. With NBA MVP Steph Curry in attendance, Gibbs turned in an MVP-worthy performance for Curry’s alma mater, scoring 41 points on an astoundingly efficient 14 of 17 shooting. Gibbs would then drop a casual 41 points against Morehead State to close out the non conference slate, willing the Wildcats to a 4 point win. However Gibbs had his sights set on conference play, where just 5 games into the conference season he would score a personal best 43 points in a home win over Massachusetts. All of these games contained gaudy stats, but no performance was as impressive as the one Gibbs turned in against St. Joseph’s. Gibbs played a controlled and efficient game against the Hawks, making 5 of 7 threes, and shooting 11 of 18 from the floor, en route to 35 points and 5 assists, as the Wildcats sealed a season-defining upset win over St. Joseph’s.
Last season, Jack Gibbs embodied the perfect traits you want to see in a point guard. One of nations best scorers and a great distributer of the basketball, working as the key cog in Bob McKillop’s system is a force to be reckoned with. The basic stats speak for themselves: 23.5 points, 4.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 35.5 minutes played per game. From an Atlantic 10 perspective, Jack Gibbs lives up to his #2 overall ranking. Considering conference play only, Gibbs was used in the most possessions of any player (35.5%) and still boasted the #2 assist rate in the conference (32.5%). While Jack Gibbs is known as being a prolific scorer and for his acrobatic assists, he plays stingy defense and gets to the line: he was 3rd in the conference in steals. However Gibbs’ foul and free throw stats are something to behold: he was top 10 in the conference in committing the fewest number of fouls per 40 minutes (9th, 2.3 fouls per 40), while being the most fouled player in the conference, drawing 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes played. These weren’t empty trips to the line either, as Gibbs used his now famous quick free throw taking technique to knock down 86.4% of his foul shots, good for 4th in the conference. With that many trips to the line, you would think that camera crews would get used to the quick release and not have to frantically pan to the basket every time only to see the ball going through the net, but I digress.
Bob McKillop runs a tight ship at Davidson. From practices, to games, to film study, everything about Davidson basketball comes down to buying into his various mantras and systems. No single player defines McKillop’s offensive system, as each player is an important cog in a very efficient, high scoring machine. This makes Jack Gibbs’ value to this team even more impressive: he operates within the system as a team player while still being one of the most exciting and prolific scorers in the nation. He is truly an invaluable player, and I don’t think there is a happier group of people than Davidson fans, knowing they get one more year of watching Jack Gibbs score, dazzle, delight, and win.
Previously: #3 Jaylen Adams