The NBA D-League is a guard-heavy league. There's no doubt about that. With so much talent on display in the minor league on a nightly basis, there are plenty of call-ups to be had. But on the flip side, competing and subsequently standing out amongst the rest could be difficult for such young guns to do.
Nevertheless, Idaho Stampede guard Shane Gibson is managing to make his mark by hovering over an ever unique accomplishment. Along with Austin Spurs guard Bryce Cotton, Gibson is in rare company as he guns towards the elusive 50/40/90 club with shooting percentages at 47% from the field, 42% from three-point range, and 97% from the free throw line through 33 games. He's averaging 13.8 points for Idaho.
It's been quite a journey for the 25 year old. Gibson was actually selected as the fourth pick of the third round in the 2013 D-League Draft, but was cut by the Erie BayHawks soon after. Opting not to go overseas, the guard was selected by the Stampede in the sixth round last fall, and has finally been given an opportunity to strut his stuff.
Having to persevere and make adjustments in order to improve is something Gibson has done previously. Following his freshman year of college, the 6'2", 180 pounder voluntarily red-shirted as a sophomore, taking the time to work on his game and strengthen his body.
Such a decision (and the hard worked that followed) paid off for him, as Gibson not only went on to score over 2,000 career collegiate points, but also emerged as one of the best scorers in the entire country through the 2012-13 campaign.
"He improved every year. Shane kept getting better and better. He was so incredibly efficient with his game, and his work ethic was off the charts," Sacred Heart basketball head coach Anthony Latina said in a recent conversation with RidiculousUpside.com. "You look at his career numbers --- he was over 40% from deep. He was our leading scorer three out of four seasons, and was someone other teams game-planned for."
Coach Latina served as an assistant under Dave Bike during Gibson's time at the school.
The young gun ranks among the league's top-fifteen in three-point percentage, but has taken more attempts than any of the other players listed, including D-League All-Star and NBA call-up candidate Seth Curry. To maintain such a high mark, all that considered, is impressive.
Though the Stampede have been struggling all season long and currently sit at the bottom of the league standings, that by no means devalues the strides Gibson has continued to make throughout. There will always be a place for pure shooters in the NBA, especially those with a knack for spacing the floor, spreading the defense, and making things easier on their teammates in the process.
"Shane is one of the best shooters I've ever been associated with. Every time he shoots, you think it's going to go in," Coach Latina said. "At our level, he was one of the few guys, who, you can defend him well, and he'll still make shots. He's an amazing talent in that regard."
As he continues shooting the lights out on the D-League level, Gibson, hopes, like many others, to garner NBA consideration. In addition, such offensive prowess undoubtedly helps him build up his resume for playing overseas in the meantime.
Still, there are challenges ahead. Not heavily recruited coming out of high school, one could argue that Gibson continued to fly under the radar, even while at Sacred Heart. What's more, his smaller build leaves him as an undersized two-guard, a status that's often tricky for such prospects to shake as they prove their worth. Having said that, after seeing the success of former St. Joseph's standout Langston Galloway with the New York Knicks, perhaps there's hope.
"I've always said if Shane were 6'5" or 6'6", he'd be Ray Allen," the coach added.
"We're so happy for him, so proud of him. He lived in the gym. It's no secret that the best shooters are generally the guys that practice the most. Look at Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Shane is reaping the benefits, and we're hoping that the sky is the limit for him," Coach Latina concluded. "He was always an extremely motivated kid. He loved to play, loved being in the gym. It not only paid off for him in college, because he was one of the top ten scorers in the country his last two years, but now in the D-League as well."