Point guard Duane Gibson, a senior at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, committed to UE following an official visit this weekend.
Gibson attended UE’s exhibition win over USI and talked to Aces coach Marty Simmons afterward, he said, at which point Simmons reminded the 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard of his scholarship offer.
“I told him I’d think about it on my way home,” Gibson said. “Once I got back, after talking about it with my parents and coaches and everything, I decided it was the right place for me. That’s where I want to be.”
Gibson joins Simmons’ son, Blake Simmons, as part of UE’s 2013 class. He plans to make it official by signing a Letter of Intent during the NCAA’s Early Period, which starts Nov. 14.
Also a member of the Ohio Basketball Club AAU program, Gibson chose UE over offers from Summit League member IPFW and Robert Morris of the Northeast Conference.
“Coach Simmons reminded me a lot of my coaches at my school, the way he coaches,” Gibson said. “The family atmosphere they were telling me about – the coaches really care.”
Gibson also talked plenty with the Aces’ players on his visit, specifically freshmen D.J. Balentine and David Howard.
“They influenced me a lot to come to the school,” Gibson said.
And at that point, the idea of playing at the Ford Center had sold itself. The Aces knocked off USI in front of more than 7,000 fans.
“When I saw the facilities, I was blown away,” Gibson said. “It looked like an NBA arena. Then I saw all the fans come in and how they felt about the basketball team. Playing in front of those crowds every night will be special.”
Gibson averaged 12 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists as a junior. He described himself as a pass-first point guard who likes to get his entire team involved and “do whatever I can to keep them happy.”
Although Gibson doesn’t have high-profile Scout.com and Rivals.com pages, a Cleveland-area recruiting service measured him as the best point guard in the city heading into his senior season.
“We have a kid in the class of 2015 that’s being touted as a top 30 kid in the country, and Duane’s always at any point been the top play in our gym,” said Gibson’s high school coach, Babe Kwasniak. “Has he flown under the radar? Maybe as far as outsiders. But within our program, we’ve known for a long time that he’s going to be really, really good.”
With Colt Ryan, Ned Cox, Troy Taylor and Lewis Jones set to exhaust their eligibility after this season and no juniors on the roster, UE has four scholarships to allot over two years. Two of those are now taken by Gibson and Blake Simmons.
UE coaches and school officials can’t comment on recruits until they’ve signed a Letter of Intent.