Gibson commits to Badger women's hoops

6-foot-4 center will add much-needed size to small Wisconsin front line

The knee injury that will keep Wisconsin freshman Lesha Jones from competing this year put into stark light the premium basketball teams put on post players. Next season, however, the Badgers will have at least one more post that can grace the Kohl Center floor.

Caitlin Gibson, a 6-foot-4 senior center at Jefferson (Wis.) High School, gave her verbal commitment to Wisconsin Sunday morning. The early letter-of-intent signing period for women's basketball begins Nov. 10.

"It was a decision that she wanted to make based on the school itself and the personnel, not necessarily the sport," Jefferson coach Dena Smith said. "She chose the school based on what it could offer her as far as academics and then the personnel that was involved."

Gibson will be a four-year starter at Jefferson. She averaged a double-double last season and was named honorable mention all-state, helping lead the Eagles to a sectional title game.

"She has been our primary go-to person for three years now and that won't change her senior year," Jefferson coach Dena Smith said. "She does it all for us. She rebounds, she scores, she gets steals, lots of blocked shots. She can outlet the ball, with a two-hand overhead pass, almost the length of the court. She does everything for us."

Gibson drew Wisconsin's attention after attending a the Badgers' elite basketball camp over the summer.

"I believe this was the first year she was invited to this elite camp and her performance there kind of raised their eyebrows a little bit that they should watch her a little closer," Smith said.

The camp experience also spurred Gibson's interest in Wisconsin.

"She really enjoyed working with the coaches at the elite camp that Lisa Stone had and she liked the players," Smith said. "They were friendly to her, they welcomed her and, of course, who wouldn't like playing in the atmosphere at Wisconsin. It's got everything to offer a young person."

Gibson chose the Badgers over scholarship offers from DePaul and UW-Green Bay. Marquette offered here a volleyball scholarship and said she could walk-on to the basketball team. Smith said that Gibson received interest from as far as Arizona and Boston University but the more proximate schools were the most seriously interested in her.

Smith said Gibson will give the Badgers "a strong presence on the inside. Someone that will fight hard for rebounds. Someone that's going to be able to matchup with some of the bigger centers in the Big Ten."

Offensively, Gibson has a well-developed post game, according to Smith.
"She has great hands and great footwork for someone her size and age," Smith said. "She has developed very recently just the nicest baby hook that you've ever seen. If she utilizes it like she should this year, I don't think anyone is going to be able to stop that."

Like any prep basketball player, Gibson will need to improve as she ventures off to college.

"I think the area that she is going to need to improve on is the physical part of the game," Smith said. "We do not have as physical a game obviously, as college has. So, she is going to have to be prepared for being pushed around on a consistent basis. The other thing I think she is going to need to do is be able to run the floor better."

With Jones out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Wisconsin has just four players over six-foot and will rely heavily on 6-1 junior forward Jordan Wilson in the post.

Gibson is the Badgers' second verbal commitment for the class of 2005. Andrea Bankhead, a 5-7 point guard from Hillside, Ill., verbally committed in February.

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