Trojans Top Bears to Advance to Pac-10 Semis
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BREAKDOWN: Taj Gibson, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound junior forward, is a long and athletic presence in the paint at both ends of the court. He has the ability to score both inside and outside and is an aggressive rebounder. He ranks second all-time on USC's career shots blocked list and holds the single-season record with 83 in the 2007-08 season. He has more blocks (153) and rebounds (580) than any Trojan has had through his freshman and sophomore seasons. He has 16 career double-doubles and has registered at least eight rebounds in 43 of 70 games and at least eight points in 58 of 70 games.
2007-08: He was a third-team All-Pac-10 selection and first-team member of the Pac-10 All-Defensive team. Averaged 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 33 games (32 starts). Led USC in rebounds (259), blocks (83) and field goal percentage (.580). He led the Pac-10 in blocks and was third in field goal percentage (tops in Pac-10 games only at .667). His 83 blocks set the USC single-season record and his .580 field goal percentage is second all-time for a season at USC. He had five double-doubles this season: Nov. 10 vs. Mercer (13 points/14 rebounds), Nov. 22 vs. San Diego (20 points/12 rebounds), Jan. 24 at Oregon State (14 points/14 rebounds), Feb. 17 vs. UCLA (16 points/12 rebounds) and March 8 vs. Stanford (20 points/11 rebounds). Scored a season-high 21 points in USC's 93-89 overtime win vs. California on March 6. Had a season best of 14 rebounds twice, Nov. 10 vs. Mercer and Jan. 24 at Oregon State. Had a season-best six blocks on Nov. 15 at The Citadel and had two games of five blocks and eight games of four blocks. Was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for March 3-9 when he averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in a home sweep of California and No. 7 Stanford. Just missed a double-double in USC's Pac-10 quarterfinal game vs. ASU on March 13 with 11 points and nine rebounds. Was held to five points and grabbed nine rebounds in the 57-54 Pac-10 semifinals loss to UCLA on March 14. Again just missed a double-double in the NCAA first-round game against Kansas State on March 20, with 10 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.
2006-07: Named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and honorable mention All-Freshman by Collegehoops.net. Led USC in the season opener vs. South Carolina with 16 points and 14 rebounds, the most rebounds by a USC freshman since Sam Clancy als had 14 in 1999. Scored 10 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds vs. Long Beach State on Nov. 24, the most rebounds by a Trojan in a game since Jan. 20, 2000 when David Bluthenthal tied Cliff Robinson's school and freshman record of 28 rebounds. Gibson scored in double figures in his first five collegiate games, the most consecutive to start a Trojan career since Tom Lewis did it the first nine games in the 1985-86 season. Had 15 points and nine rebounds on Dec. 4 at Kansas and followed that up with 16 points and 17 rebounds vs. George Washington at the Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. on Dec. 9. Scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a double-overtime win vs. Washington on Dec. 28 in his first Pac-10 game. Scored 18 points, had 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots on Jan. 4 at Oregon. His block total in that game tied for the fourth most in USC history. Earned Player of the Week honors (Jan. 1-7) by ESPN.com and TheSportingNews.com as he helped lead USC to a sweep of previously undefeated Oregon and to a rout of Oregon State on the road. Scored 38 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked eight shots on the trip. Set the USC freshman rebound record with 321 and the freshman blocks record with 69. Also ranks among the USC freshman top five in free throws attempted (1st), free throws made (3rd), points (4th), field goal percentage (T-4th) and rebound average (2nd). He had 11 double-doubles, one of five freshman in the country with that many, joining among others Greg Oden and Kevin Durant who were the top two picks in the 2007 NBA Draft. Had at least eight rebounds in 27 of 37 games, scored in double figures in 27 of 37 games and scored at least eight points in 34 of 37 games. Selected to the Pac-10 Conference All-Tournament team, as he scored 36 points and had 29 rebounds in the three games. Had 51 points and 34 rebounds in the three NCAA games, with double-doubles vs. Texas (17 pts/14 rebs) and North Carolina (16 pts/12 rebs).
HIGH SCHOOL: Gibson played at Calvary Christian in San Fernando, Calif. in 2006, following two seasons at Stoneridge Prep in Tarzana, Calif. Calvary Christian ended up having an abbreviated season, just competing in the Prep Stars of North America tournament held in London,Canada, where Gibson helped lead them to the consolation championship. As a sophomore and junior at Stoneridge Prep, Gibson averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks per game. Began his high school career at Telecommunications High in Brooklyn, N.Y. Was invited to the NBPA Top 100 Camp prior to his senior season and finished fourth in scoring with a 17.1 average for the week. Gibson was rated the seventh-best power forward and the 32nd player overall by RivalsHoops. Also, USA Today ranked the forward as the 33rd best prospect in the country.
PERSONAL: Gibson was born on June 24, 1985 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Father played basketball for the U.S. Army national team during the Vietnam War. Lists his favorite players as Jamal Tinsley and Lamar Odom. Likes to spend his free time listening to music and reading.