The University of Utah added another piece to this year’s recruiting class with the commitment of Justin Bibbins on Tuesday afternoon. After playing three years at Long Beach State, Bibbins was looking for a chance to increase his level of competition in a new environment.
“I just wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I knew I was going to graduate and I just wanted to try something different,” explained Bibbins, “I was born and raised in SoCal and I just wanted to try something different and explore a different option.”
The 5-foot-8 inch, 160 pound pure point guard will receive his degree this upcoming July and be eligible immediately to play for the Utes.
Bibbins, who was deciding between joining Utah or Colorado, arrived on his visit to Salt Lake City on Easter Sunday. His lead recruiter, assistant coach Andy Hill, picked Bibbins up from the airport along with his parents. From there they met at Larry Krystkowiak’s house for an Easter dinner. The next morning is when he was able to visit the campus and find out about Utah basketball. “From there we took a tour of the campus, and I played a couple of pick-up games with the guys and met all the coaches, the strength and conditioning coach and the academic advisors,” He said. “I fell in love with the campus and the facilities.”
During the visit, what stood out the most to Bibbins was how comfortable it felt to be on the court with the rest of the Utah basketball team. “Playing out there with the players it just felt good and natural. I think that is one of the main reasons I fell in love with Utah. Playing out there with the teammates, it felt like I have been with them for years, but it had only been for 30 minutes,” he said.
Before coming on the trip, Bibbins immersed himself into studying the film he could find on the Utes. “I definitely did my homework and watched a couple of games. So I knew what they did and ran, and knew the style of a couple of guys, he said. However after sharing the court with the guys he could really see how he would compliment this team and how he could make it better.
“Definitely with my defense,” he stated, “I want to start off with that and bring a defensive aspect to it. Because I am smaller, people have their doubts about that, but I can definitely bring in a different type of energy.”
The savvy guard brings much more to the table. “My leadership. I’m more of an experienced guard because this will be my fourth year. So just bringing that experience and then offensively just being a facilitator,” he added. “Use my passing abilities and getting guys more open looks and more touches around the basket. That will be my main goal offensively.”
The Utah coaching staff agrees that Bibbins can be a major help to next year’s team. “(The coaches) envision me being the point and working me with Sed (Barefield), fitting us together. Playing at the same time, switching off, just definitely fitting us together and finding what works with me and Sed,” Bibbins related, “That’s what me and Sedrick are excited about. They envision me getting the guys more looks, different looks than they’ve gotten before and in the past.”
Helping his teammates get better looks at the basket is the task he will be dealt from the get go at Utah. “That is main goal coming in, and what me and Coach K talked a lot about. We watched film on last year’s team and that’s something that I’m excited to bring to this team,” he said.
Bibbins was so pleased with what he saw at Utah that he committed on the spot. His words to Krystkowiak were straightforward, “I love it here and I want to be here. I love the players, the environment and the culture that you’ve created.”
Now the challenge is to make the jump to a league as talented as the Pac 12. However, Bibbins isn’t exactly new to the level of play. While at Long Beach State Bibbins played games against Oregon, UCLA, Arizona and Oregon State, he also had a closed scrimmage against Arizona State. Those contests have made Bibbins confident that he can make the jump. Of the transition he said, “I wouldn’t decide to make this move if I didn’t believe in myself. Playing the schedule we played at Long Beach and playing Power 5 schools and Pac 12 schools, it’s not a big jump for me because I am used to playing them every year.”
Until he arrives in July, Bibbins will have to focus on finishing his final 20 credit hours. But always in the back of his mind his thoughts will be on Utah. ‘I’m excited to get there, excited to help the team and excited to win. That’s the main focus that me and the coaches have talked about this whole time, just winning. There wasn’t any conversations that didn’t have the word winning,” he said.