Oltmanns: Gibbs makes right decision

By Alex Oltmanns

When I first heard the news that Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs was declaring for June’s NBA Draft, I… When I first heard the news that Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs was declaring for June’s NBA Draft, I have to admit I was surprised.

It never really occurred to me that Gibbs would consider leaving school a year early after not really popping up on many NBA mock draft boards.

But now that I’ve had a couple days to consider it, the decision to enter the draft without hiring an agent — making him eligible to return to Pitt next year — is actually a great idea.

Gibbs, who led the Panthers in scoring this past season with 16.8 points per game, will now get a chance over the next couple weeks to test the draft waters by working out for teams with other NBA prospects.

No matter how the workouts turn out for Gibbs, he’s in a win-win situation.

If he performs well, his draft stock will rise and he will probably opt to remain in the draft with an increased draft position.

And if he struggles in the workouts, he will get plenty of feedback from NBA scouts on what to work on for next year’s draft, should he choose to return to Pitt for his senior season.

Gibbs will surely be one of the best shooters in any workout he is in — if not the best — but teams will be closely evaluating his other skills, such as creating his own shot offensively and his defensive abilities.

The New Jersey native has all the skills necessary to impress scouts, and all it takes is the ability to stand out in one team’s mind to be considered for the draft.

Whether it be a team that’s looking for a deadeye shooter, like the Miami Heat, or a team looking to groom a point guard for the future, of which  there are plenty, the opportunities are bountiful for Gibbs.

Even more enticing is the fact that this is the first year when NBA teams can pay for draft prospects’ travel expenses for their workouts. In years past, the players have paid their own ways.

Gibbs has yet to hire an agent, which still gives him the option to return to school. Hiring an agent locks players into the draft.

And if I had to guess what Gibbs will decide, I would wager that he puts the entire NBA draft process on hold for one more year to refine his craft in college for another season and looks to lead the Panthers to the ever-elusive Final Four.

Yet there should be no doubting Gibbs’ decision to test his NBA stock over the next two weeks. If the draft system is made to be tested by underclassmen, players might as well test it.