Tibbs has a bright basketball future at Fayetteville State

Tibbs has a bright basketball future at Fayetteville State
March 31
00:00 2016
Photo by Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State’s Will Tibbs (right) defends against Jamel McAllister of Winston-Salem State.



While driving home for Christmas break with a teammate, Will Tibbs made a decision that more than likely changed his basketball future for the best.

A little over 15 months ago, Tibbs, whose home is Winston-Salem, was a freshman player at Maryland-Eastern Shore.  That season, however, was uneventful. Tibbs was red-shirted and did not play. In the meantime, he became dissatisfied with his situation and started to think about alternatives.

Teammate Jaiquan Manning wasn’t happy either. So they talked at length about possibilities during the car ride from Maryland to North Carolina in December 2014. Before coming to Winston-Salem, though, Tibbs had to drop Manning off in his home town, which is Fayetteville.

The subject of Fayetteville State basketball came up. So he decided to visit and have a talk with the head coach. The following summer, Tibbs made his move from UMES to Fayetteville. Manning also left and now he’s playing at Pitt Community College.

Tibbs, a 6-6 forward who graduated from Winston-Salem Prep, flourished in his first season of college basketball. As a red-shirt freshman, he averaged 8.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and was named to the CIAA’s All-Rookie team. Perhaps the truest measure of Tibbs’ value was the fact that he started all 29 games and was second on the team in minutes played at 31.2 per game.

“Will had an outstanding season,” said coach Alphonza Kee of Fayetteville State. “Since he came from a (high school) program that has a winning tradition and the right kind of tutelage, I knew that he’d come in and be ready to play.”

As a newcomer with the Broncos, Tibbs proved himself as a valued contributor with a multiple skill set. He’s usually penciled in at small forward. But over the course of games, there are times when he’ll play every position.

“We asked him to rebound, defend and finish around the basket,” said Key. “But he can also help out at point guard and there are times when he’s at the 5 (center). Next year, he’ll do that and even more. He’ll be more involved in initiating our offense as a point forward and we’re looking for him to expand his shooting range from the perimeter.”

Looking back on his first year in college, Tibbs learned a few lessons. As a key player at Winston-Salem Prep, he was accustomed to competing every season. So, it’s easy to understand how difficult it was for him to sit and watch from courtside.

“It was tough,” Tibbs recalled. “While I was sitting out, I learned a lot about work ethic from the players at Maryland-Eastern Shore. At the college level, you can’t afford to take any days off. If you do, you could end up losing your spot (on the team). That’s why you have to bring it (focus, intensity and desire) every day.”

After having his initial conversations with Key, it became clear in Tibbs’ mind that he wouldn’t have to do any more searching for a new college home. “I was sold from the beginning,” he said. “I really liked the environment.

There were no cliques or anything like that. It was so much like family. That’s what I was looking for.”

Tibbs is part of a high school state basketball championship legacy. During his time at Prep, the Phoenix pulled off a three-peat by winning Class 1-A state championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Playing under the guidance of coach Andre Gould, he explained, served as good preparation for the college level.

“It’s all about working hard and playing hard to be the best you can possibly be,” said Tibbs. “That’s what I learned while playing at Prep.”

Now that Tibbs has his first college season behind him, he’s keenly focused on helping Fayetteville State improve on its 14-15 record from this past season. In the CIAA Tournament, the Broncos had a strong run and won two games before bowing out to eventual tournament champion Virginia State in the quarterfinal round.

“The season didn’t end the way we wanted, but we learned a few things,” said Tibbs. “We have a better idea of all the things we need to work on as a team. That’s really going to help us in the long run.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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