Gibson to play basketball

Though he said he still has to meet with Georgia football coach Mark Richt, Fred Gibson said Monday he plans to join the basketball team today.

ATHENS, Ga. - Though he said he still has to meet with Georgia football coach Mark Richt, Fred Gibson said Monday he plans to join the basketball team today.

 Gibson, the second-leading receiver on Georgia's 13-1 football team, has struggled with the decision to play two sports for the second straight year.
On Monday, Gibson said he may have worked out a way to satisfy his love for basketball and still address the need to spend time in the weight room to improve his strength as a football player.

 "I can play basketball as long as I do what I'm supposed to do and lift weights whenever I can,'' Gibson said.

 "I gave this a lot of thought because I was just trying to make the right decision.''

 Though travel and practice schedules with the basketball team no doubt will keep him away from a large portion of the football team's offseason conditioning schedule, Gibson plans to give more emphasis to his work in the weight room. Last year he went from football to basketball to spring football and never had time to lift weights.

 When recruiting Gibson at Ware County High School, Richt made a pledge that he would support Gibson's desire to play football and basketball.

 Richt recently affirmed his commitment to that promise, but the coach also said he thinks Gibson's long-term future in football would improve if the slender sophomore added strength needed to make him a better blocker.

Poor blocking helped lead to Gibson losing his starting position for three games this season.

 Gibson said he no longer has any soreness in his right shoulder after suffering a minor injury in last week's Sugar Bowl win over Florida State.

 Despite missing two games with a thumb injury, Gibson caught 43 passes for 758 yards and four touchdowns this season. He likely will receive preseason all-star notice entering the 2003 season.

 Viewed as a football player with a future in the NFL, in basketball Gibson will be a backup player. Though he made a strong impact on the court last year for a player who had missed all preseason drills and the first month of the schedule, Gibson still had modest averages of 4.9 points and 11.1 minutes.

 Gibson will have several days to work back into basketball shape before Georgia's next game Saturday at Florida. Last year's game at Florida was one of Gibson's basketball highlights, as he scored six points in the final 51 seconds of a Georgia upset win.

 Gibson will join Damien Wilkins, Wayne Arnold and Richard Wehunt as backup wing players. In Sunday's win over Louisiana State, Arnold and Wehunt combined for only 11 minutes, so it may be more difficult than last year for Gibson to find his niche in the playing rotation.

  NOTES: Ezra Williams was named SEC Player of the Week Monday. Williams was 7 for 7 on 3-point attempts while scoring 25 points in Sunday's 89-63 rout of No. 21 Louisiana State, and last week he scored 20 points in an upset of No. 2 Pittsburgh.

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