As we noted in our last report, Xavier Gibson
possesses the physical tools and upside to keep scouts interested when they make the trip to Tallahassee, but he has yet to come close to putting all the pieces together to produce at a high level. His excellent size, long arms, strong frame, good, but not great, athleticism, and budding inside-outside skill set piqued our interest early on in his career, but needs to rebound from an injury plagued year and have a productive senior season to show that he's worthy of being considered an NBA prospect.
Just after Christmas of last year, Gibson suffered an injury to his left knee and left hand against Butler in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii which caused him to miss 10 games. Up to that point Gibson had started every game for the Seminoles and was posting career highs averages of 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per-game.
Prior to his injury, Gibson was a key cog for Florida State which they made very clear by consistently running plays on their opening possessions to get him opportunities in the post. It seemed as if Florida State realized that they needed to get Gibson involved early and that getting him the ball early would keep him engaged and energized for the whole game.
Upon his return to floor in February, those touches had evaporated, and Gibson did not look like the same player when he did get the ball down low. He averaged just 2.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per-game in the 12 games that he played post-injury, and never played more than 14 minutes in any of those games. Only in Florida State's loss in the NCAA tournament to VCU did Gibson seem to return to form.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Gibson's game in past years was his ability to step out and knock down jumpers with some range. As a sophomore, he shot 40% from beyond the arc, albeit on only 15 attempts, and showed enough confidence that it seemed he had the potential to develop into a very effective pick and pop player. As a junior, he shot just 4-24 (16.7%) on his jumpers according to Synergy Sports Technology and made less than 8% of a similarly small sample of 3's. Although he always seem confident when letting the ball go, his release is a little bit low, especially for someone of his size, but he looks smooth and comfortable as he steps into a long jump shot.
Apart from his jump shot, Gibson does a few other things fairly well offensively. Despite his struggles, he still seems to have potential on the pick and pop, and shows good hands rolling to the basket when he doesn't step out to the perimeter. On the offensive glass Gibson is very active, but often struggles to finish and never uses his left hand, often going to extreme lengths to try to lay the ball in with his right.
Despite that tendency, Gibson continues to show that he can be effective in the post. He mixes a smooth jump shot when he turns over his right shoulder with a fairly consistent hook over his left shoulder to give himself a good 1-2 punch down low. Though he has some flashes down low, he does not always finish the shots he creates for himself.
Defensively, Gibson has intriguing physical tools with his size, length and frame. He showed some prowess as a shot-blocker early on in his career, but has not developed into the consistent intimidating threat that some hoped he would. His wingspan coupled with his mobility allows him to make some excellent plays from time to time, but his average fundamentals and awareness are still an issue at this stage.
Gibson's status as a draft prospect will depend largely on whether or not he comes back completely healthy and regains his athleticism, since that will be a key step if he is to put things together during his senior season. He will turn 23 before the first game of the season so he will be considered very old by NBA draft standards, but even if he doesn't have a huge season it is not hard to picture Gibson raising some eyebrows in NBA workouts and causing someone to roll the dice on him in the 2nd round or training camp. Players of his nature don't exactly grow on trees, and he could very well have upside still left to tap into.