Pittsburgh—Junior guard Ashton Gibbs announced Saturday that he will withdraw from the 2011 NBA Draft and return to the University of Pittsburgh for his senior season. Since he did not sign with an agent, Gibbs retained the option to withdraw from the draft per NCAA rules. The NBA Draft Early Entry withdrawal deadline is on Sunday, May 8.
"I am extremely excited that Ashton will return to the court for us next year," Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon said. "We encouraged and supported Ashton in his pursuit of NBA Draft possibilities. Ashton and I had numerous discussions dating back to last year and during the process. Anytime you are an All-Big East First Team player, the professional field is something we encourage our players to look into. Ashton is a tremendous representative for the University of Pittsburgh. He embodies everything you want in a student-athlete and has always made decisions for the right reasons. This is just another example."
"In discussing my options the last couple of weeks with my family and Coach Dixon, I feel that it is in my best interest to return to Pitt for my senior season," Gibbs said. "The NBA can wait a year. I look forward to continuing the success that we've established here at Pitt and finish my collegiate career with all of my teammates and fellow senior Nasir Robinson. It will also be extra special to earn my degree."
As one of the nation's top shooters and scorers in 2010-11, Gibbs earned AP All-America honorable mention, USBWA and NABC All-District honors while becoming just the ninth player in school history to be selected to the All-Big East First Team. He ranked third among NCAA Division I leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (49.0 percent), fifth in 3-point field goals made per game (3.3) and 18th in free throw percentage (88.9 percent). He also led the Panthers in scoring for the second straight season (16.8 ppg.) and also set a Pitt season record for 3-point field goals made (102).
On the year, Gibbs scored 20 or more points 12 times, reached double figure scoring in 26 of his 31 games played and converted three or more 3-pointers in 20 contests. As a sophomore in 2009-10, Gibbs was named the Big East Most Improved Player, earned Second Team All-Big East honors and was a Bob Cousy Award finalist.
A two-time Big East Academic All-Star, Gibbs enters his senior season ranked among Pitt's career leaders in scoring (1,207 points, 23rd), 3-point field goals made (216, 4th), 3-point field goal percentage (44.1 percent, 2nd) and free throw percentage (87.9 percent, 2nd). In 100 career games played and 64 starts, he has averaged 12.1 points, scored 20 or more points 23 times and converted at least three 3-pointers in 43 games.
Pitt returns two starters (Gibbs and Robinson) and seven of its top-10 letterwinners from a squad that won the Big East regular season title outright with a 15-3 record, finished 28-6 overall, earned a No. 1 seed upon entering the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive season.