Sterling Gibbs to transfer from Seton Hall

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Seton Hall’s lead guard Sterling Gibbs will transfer from the program and is immediately eligible following his graduation this spring.

In what shouldn’t come as a surprise to any Seton Hall fan that has kept their ear to the ground over the last few months, Sterling Gibbs will transfer from the program.

“We appreciate everything Sterling has done for our program over the last three years and wish him all the best as he pursues a Master’s degree at another university,” said head coach Kevin Willard in a release.

Gibbs, who averaged 16.3 ppg, 3.8 apg and shot 43.6% from three this past season has one more year of eligibility starting next season. From what I’ve heard, UConn is currently a favorite to land the combo guard.

Update (4/28 5pm): Was just told that Sterling does not have a favorite as of yet.

A lethal spot up three-point shooter who consistently knocks them down in transition, Gibbs is also able of playing with the ball in his hands although he’s more of a scorer than a creator in that respect.

For Seton Hall, Gibbs’ departure leaves just Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington as guards capable of playing point guard next season while incoming freshman Dalton Soffer can fill in at two-guard.

The rift between Gibbs and fellow teammates last season is no secret and surely played some sort of role in his departure. There was a spat between him and Isaiah Whitehead in a practice that wasn’t handled properly, eventually leading to a verbal altercation between the two in a media timeout huddle during a loss to Georgetown in February.

Gibbs’ roommate the year before and close friend on the team, Jaren Sina, would transfer the next morning amidst a whirlwind of rumors.

Other factors like being immediately eligible next season for a team poised to make noise in March such as UConn is undeniably enticing.


    Wow, this might be the most frustrating “high major” program in all of NCAA D-1 basketball. Unreal.

  • PirateLacrosse14

    I’m assuming the Staff will go after Jevon Thomas a lot harder now? Or has he signed elsewhere already?

    • Not necessarily as he isn’t eligible next season, but would be a decent JuCo PG-like addition for 2016-17 if joined with a top-150 local guard.

      • PirateLacrosse14

        Completely forgot he’d have to sit a year. As a few people have said on here, Eli Carter would be a great (on-court) pickup, but not sure of the likelihood of him coming here.
        But this Willard situation has gotten out of hand. Not only is he clearly hurting us now, but is burning future recruiting bridges by having so many players transfer out. And is further damaging the already damaged reputation of the team.

  • Cool Danch

    Oh boy. Chris, do you know if SHU is/was actively pursuing any PG’s, graduate-transfer, JUCO, or out of HS and if any of them are still ‘on the board?’ I really would rather not have to see another season like 12-13 when we had no experience at the 1

    • I can’t speak to the first three, but there was reported interest in St. John’s de-commit combo guard Samir Doughty. This was *before* the Gibbs announcement today and kind of caught my attention that a decision was looming. I was able to confirm that Seton Hall had reached out.

      He’s not a shooting guard but not a point guard, I’d roughly say similar to Khadeen Carrington (not talent-wise, but position-wise).

  • iratepirate

    So. Uh. Can we stop blaming Gonzo yet? Or luck? Or injuries? Kevin Willard is a great coach….. for a team like Holy Cross or Caldwell College. Now he’s got his 2015-16 excuse all lined up.

    “No one could have gone to the tournament without a full roster of players. No one could have seen this coming. We are in good with 2016 Pgs.”

    Cut this guy loose already.

  • Old pirate fan hall dad

    Can’t believe it. Willards ship is sinking like the titanic. This program better have an ncaa year or one of two things is going to happen. Willard gets fired or I stop buying season tix till he goes.

  • Andrew

    What a joke…

    Willard is clearly the issue here and the school does not care. Beyond frustrating.

  • Not to sound pompous, but I had known this for awhile and it’s important context. Sterling twice tried to leave the team after Georgetown and before the Providence road trip but was reluctantly convinced to stay:

    • Peter

      Do they go after Eli Carter and his two years of immediate eligibility? He unfortunately also has a checkered past (two transfers, similar to Gibbs), but he would plug an immediate and gaping hole.

      • Doesn’t seem like the best fit off the court, but the way I remember it, Seton Hall was strongly in the mix for him down the stretch when he was coming out of 2011 class. This was awhile ago though.

        So I wouldn’t be surprised if they reached out…

    • fouline

      It raises the question of Willard hanging on through the onslaught of criticism after the season. If Gibbs would have opted out, maybe… just maybe he would have been fired… even with a 3 mil buyout.

    • iratepirate

      Chris. For me this now brings back reservations about Soffer. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I thought your argument for why it was okay to take Soffer even if his ball handling and other aspects weren’t up to BE level was because he wouldn’t be relied on freshman year, and wouldn’t have any expectations on him until year 2/3. Now he’s literally first guard off the bench. He’s probably going to be playing 10-15 minutes a game I would expect unless KC and IW are playing 35+ minutes each.

      I guess one answer is that Willard lands another guard and takes pressure off, but now Soffer needs to produce something in his first year and that sounds awfully scary to me. Reminds me of 2012-13 (which ever year we were “point by committee”)

      • Beyond Doughty, I don’t know of any other guards the staff is going after, but I’m sure they are targeting a few.

        I don’t know if I made that argument, but it’s a reasonable one to make. Being behind three guards in the depth chart would have been a comfortable fit for him, but I’m not sure about 2. While he may or may not be able to produce above expectations, perhaps it can’t hurt his development.

  • Nick Pacitti

    I give up let me know when we fire Willard

  • Thehall

    Fire Willard. 15 win team next year.

  • fouline

    Gibbs was too inconsistent to be considered more than a solid player. But within Willard’s quasi street-ball system, Gibbs was a star. When a player leaves you have to ask how do you replace their points. At this point in the season it’s hard to see an uncommitted player with Gibbs stats. God… are we in trouble!

    • Inconsistent how?

      • fouline

        Some game he seemed like he disappeared. Other games – 40 pts.

        • iratepirate

          No one scores 40 pts. every game. His average was 16.3. That’s exactly what you want from a leader and ball handler. He had the best Assist-Turnover ratio on the team. As important as any of this, he was the man you trusted. With the game on the line he was the guy you wanted to have the ball, take the shot, make the drive. That’s hard to replace.

          You don’t knock a guy for occasionally having a poor shooting night. You look at the overall record.

          • Have to agree here. Eyeballing, most of his point totals were +/- 5 points of his average. I think he only scored in single figures 3 or 4 times.

            Further “other games – 40” is a disingenuous comparison. He scored 30 pts or more twice: 30 against Butler and 40 against Illinois State, a career high.

          • fouline

            Chris, I go by minutes/fg/3pt. 7 games: Wash, Rut, Xav, DeP, Mar, Prov, Vil. . He went: 2-6, 4-12, 3-11, 2-16, 4-12, 3-11, 4-15. 3pts: 1-3. 2-6, 2-8. 0-0, 2-5, 1-5, 3-9. So for me, he was inconsistent with his better games. As i said a star but…

          • You’re going to include a blowout against Rutgers (4 assists), Xavier (7 assists, plus a well-documented Film Room as to why Seton Hall struggled), and two games after Gibbs wanted to quit the team as evidence of him being inconsistent?

            Going 2-6 in a low tempo game against GW when Whitehead is dominating the ball is inconsistent?

            Everyone can have their own opinion, but I don’t agree.

            By my count, Gibbs played well in 9/10 of the first 12 Big East games.

          • fouline

            You make my point. There are always circumstances that help dictate a performance good or bad. But if he was more emotionally stable and had a coach who was more mature than a 6 year old, Sterling could have been the BEPOTY. And end his career as one of the best players in the history of SHU. He’s one of those players that have real talent. He sets a higher bar no matter the opposition or his emotional state. And has to be judged at that level.

          • fouline

            If you read what i said, i wasn’t knocking him, I put his contribution in perspective. I said he was a solid player and a star on the team. But his immaturity – fighting on the court and hitting a player out of frustration – kept him from being more consistent. And from realizing more of his potential. Hopefully at his next stop, he’ll have a coach that will harness his emotions and direct them more positively.

          • To be fair, I asked for a clarification on you calling him inconsistent, and you wrote about him disappearing and also scoring 40 points, not about this:

            “But his immaturity – fighting on the court and hitting a player out of frustration – kept him from being more consistent.”

            Sterling always handled himself very professionally post-game and I have strong reason to believe – though it was a terrible moment – the Arcidiacono incident brewed because of failure on the coaching staff’s end to de-escalate player tension.

            That said, his suspension for the road Creighton game last season (although its safe to say last year’s Pirate ship was being led astray by its captain too) adds a little fuel the fire.

  • Andrew Herbst

    I had a feeling Gibbs would transfer, so I’m not surprised by this. Hopefully Whitehead and Carrington can play well together as well as Solfer. We still need one more guard.

  • Matty P

    Well this transfer kills Willard’s 3 guard lineup. Can’t afford to have either Carrington or Whitehead get injured. Overall it looks like the real winner for playing time due to this transfer will be Desi. This is going to be a very young team next year that has the rare advantage of having a number of sophomores that have played heavy freshman minutes.

    • iratepirate

      Willard’s 3 guard lineup went 16-15 last year. It’s a stupid idea that rarely works. It especially doesn’t work when you throw in an undersized PF and C in your lineup like we would have next year if Desi started at PF. This isn’t some 8th dimensional chess game where Willard crunched the numbers and he’s always had a 3 guard lineup strategy. It was desperation on his end making sure everyone got playing time as promised.

      The answer is to stop playing people out of position. Get real big men. Play actual basketball strategy. Learn how to break the most basic 2-3 zone by utilizing your PF somewhere other than outside the 3 point line.

      • Matty P

        I completely agree that SHU should go with a more traditional lineup. The 3 guard lineup might work in a lower level and not against top level D-1 competition. I think with the traditional lineup it should help from a defensive and rebounding aspect. I was never a fan of having either Whitehead or Carrington play one of those lower defensive roles in the 2-3 zone.

  • slats33

    I don’t like calling for anyone to lose their job but Willard has to go. I realize he’s they’d probably have to buy him out but how can they justify keeping him on?? Go get Tom Pecora. The man can actually coach and has good area connections.

    • 44-106 in 5 years at Fordham Tom Pecora? No thanks.

      • slats33

        John Wooden couldn’t win at Fordham. The man is a good coach. Keep making excuses for this dope though

        • No idea how this is an excuse.

          Eating a huge buyout to hire a losing coach from a lower level mid-major isn’t going to happen.

      • fouline

        Pecora was offered the job but turned it down. He wanted the SJU job but it went to Lavin.

        • How can you be offered a job if you never interview?

          • fouline

            Chris, at the time, It was reported in the Post that he was offered. And he turned it down because he wanted the SJU job. A lot of jobs are offered by sending out “feelers”. And the “feelers” are accepted or rejected. It’s the beginning of the process. In this case SHU wanted to know if he would be interested in the job. And he wasn’t. Big mistake in light of where he is now… nowhere.

          • Do you have a link?

            I get what you’re saying, but I still don’t see how being reached out to is anything close to being offered the job.

          • fouline

            No link. Maybe Lenn Robins. I’ll look. But it’s a typical way of doing business. SHU or any school doesn’t want to get rejected publicly so they go through the backdoor and ask. This way the program saves face. And they move on. And don’t forget Pecora was somewhat hot 5 years ago.

          • I found a NYPost story from the Gonzalez coaching search in which he was the “top candidate” and spoke with Quinlan but then signed an extension with Hofstra, couldn’t find anything else.

            Regardless, I think we’re just arguing over semantics here. The way you put it initially, it made it sound like they were in advanced talks or something.

  • JJ

    Need to go after Eli Carter hard now.

  • ThePirateFan

    What a disaster. Lose Gibbs and Keep Willard? Ugh. I was really hoping it would end up being a both-or-neither situation. And right on the heels of getting Anderson? Typical up-and-down, blood pressure spiking, ultimately disheartening Seton Hall fandom.

    Even a Georgetown fan shared this sentiment on a Gtown board when Hurley went to ASU… “You snooze you lose, Seton Hall. Hopefully his brother is still available at this time next spring when they’re looking to replace Willard.”

    Looking back in some years I expect Gibbs’ 2014-15 season may go down as one of the most under-appreciated single seasons of a particular player in recent SHU memory. Even considering he was a candidate for BEPOY for a chunk of the season, I really believe Gibbs was that impressive last season.

    I hope he lands somewhere where he’ll be a big contributor on a serious NCAA contender.

    • I don’t understand the decent amount of Seton Hall fans that aren’t rooting for him or are happy hes gone. Even if he lands at UConn, which conventionally isn’t a team that a Seton Hall supporter would pull for, I’ll be cheering him on.

  • William Vivona

    He hit the greatest and most memorable basket in modern Seton Hall history against Villanova in the Big East tournament. He deserves to be remembered for that step back two at the buzzer. Best of luck wherever you land, Sterling.

  • hallstorm

    how many total players have transferred in williard’s tenure here? it’s pretty scary the amount on unhappiness that goes on apparently.

    the williard era very much reminds me of george blaney: got a few top 100 recruits, lost most others. got one mcdonald’s all-american. had a terrible in-game plan and a worse in-conference record. seems lost about 7 minutes into the first half of the game. looks bewildered about half the time. and when all else fails? jack up some three’s and play street ball.

  • 11yearplan

    Before calling for his head lets see how he deals with this bit of adversity and what the situation looks like in March 2016, the six (6) year point. If he lands a good PG and or; Nwamu and IW does the job at PG and the team does well, no one should be calling for his head come spring. This is as legitimate a possibility as all of the doom and gloom predictions.

    • Before calling for his head? A 30-60 conference record after 5 seasons (6-12 average record) is a fireable track record at most schools.

      And what does “the team doing well” mean? If the team doesn’t make the NCAA tournament again, everyone should be calling for his head.

    • JJer

      That post has you saying it’s about the wins. OK, that’s what you value.

      My list of problems with Willard are mostly about how he treats the kids and about team management.

      – Geramipoor: Seems to me he wanted to ensure a good season *at any cost* when he didn’t give Geramipoor a redshirt his first year. This always bothered me from the minute I first heard of it. Mono in a big needing development is a classic redshirt. But I gave Willard slack, despite that I could come up with no explanation why he shouldn’t redshirt him, except that he was concerned about Willard first.

      – Manga: Not even a second of play when his guardians were at the last game they’d see him play? Even if Manga did something pretty bad at practice, I mean, geez. Then there’s Manga’s tweet after his last game: “I hate liars.” Not that we know who that was directed at, or even if directed at Willard, whether it was deserving or not.

      – Sina: How did it get this far? How many cases are there of starting players who love the game, yet can’t stomach another minute on a team? Very bad team management.

      – Gibbs: Also wanted to quit on the spot? How did it get this far?

      – A Willard statement that he’ll never redshirt a kid again. What is this? What if it’s better for the kid to be redshirted? This sounds like it’s all about Willard’s success, use ’em up sooner (these lesser-talented redshirt possibilities), then you can recruit that position sooner. That would only make sense if a coach is sure he can’t develop kids. Even if I’m totally wrong about his reasoning, some of the things he says like this don’t give me confidence. It’s like watching someone who’s still experimenting with the basics of the task, learning on the job, stating comforting rules of absolutism before he experiences the real nuances of the job, which is something you’d expect from a rookie. In this particular redshirting rule, how come other highly successful coaches don’t live by that rule? E.g., Coach K’s starting center next year might be former redshirt Marshall Plumlee.

      So I don’t care if Willard makes the NCAAs next year. I realize that viewpoint is far from the norm..

      • 11yearplan

        Chris & JJer: All fair points. But there were a lot of unusual things Coach had to overcome and there was a learning curve which you have to accept when you hire someone who only has 3 yrs experience at a mid-major. This was compounded by having run down facilities, a collection of undisciplined athletes with no concept of winning, no AD and no President. That is why I think 6 not 4 years and asked that everyone accept one step back for each 2 steps forward the program took.

        The reality of the situation, the school did not have an AD and Coach brought one in. The school had second rate facilities and Coach fixed that. The school did not have a women’s coach who wanted to coach college women, Coach brought one in. Throughout the past 5 years we never had to worry that Coach would use Seton Hall as a stepping stone and better deal us. His focus was squarely on making the Athletic Department better.

        I agree we are not there yet. Not just winning or making the NCAA Tourney, I want to see players develop, leaders emerge, better execution and different players step up when the situation calls for it. I also want to see bigger crowds, improvement in the brand and more celebrity recruits like Isaiah Whitehead. All of this falls squarely on the shoulders of the coach. This is what doing well means.

        As far as losing Sina and Gibbs, when problems hit, they ran. This is their history. Gibbs had his share of problems here as well i.e.: reputation as a selfish player, suspension for not playing hard. Clearly some of this falls on Coach for not successfully instilling leadership skills in the upper class-men, but some falls on these two team leaders who ran rather than right the ship and eventually be overshadowed by a collection of freshman. This may be addition by subtraction.

        Losing Sina and Gibbs is not the result I wanted. I like both players and we have all seen the positive posts I put on SOJ about each one. But I also did not want a player who would quit in mid-season or one who had to be convinced to stay on and who waited until he was sure he was going to graduate before changing what he said publicly up to that point and announcing he was leaving. Gibbs surveyed the field and believes he can better deal us.

        In comparison, it is the freshman who have consistently said they are committed to the program and will come back bigger, stronger and better than ever. I assume they were the ones who helped seal the deal with Sing, Carter and Anderson.

        There has been a lot to be frustrated about. Most of the negative comments about Coach have been fair. My concern has always been the negative must be weighted against the positive. Given the mess he voluntarily walked into, and the progress he has made, it is too soon to call for his head. That discussion should take place at the end of the 2015-2016 season.

        • fouline

          The only thing I admire more than your passion for mediocrity is your passion for finding excuses.

        • JJer

          I’ve never read a post from you that was anything but decent and understanding, almost all forcing me to give a “Rec” or Like. But the part above about Sina and Gibbs, wow. I just can’t agree. I’d want out of a toxic situation, and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.

          “when problems hit, they ran. This is their history.” ?? What history? One committed as a sophomore, young and dumb, so asked out of the commitment. Then committed to a coach who then was gone before he attended, so chose another school. Very normal and understandable. The other transferred, that’s a sin? I transferred, it’s really quite commonplace. I also chose a third university for graduate school, so have the same history as Gibbs, yet no one ever said I was doing anything wrong. Quite the opposite, I only heard encouragement to do what I thought best for me. Throw me under the bus with these other kids, for living by “it’s a free country.”

          “reputation as a selfish player, suspension for not playing hard.” He was a head-down two guard, slowly developing the ability to be a head-up point guard. Whitehead and pals should have realized that, that Gibbs was not as good as Whitehead at seeing the court, and should have been patient that Gibbs would get better in that regard. I don’t recall that any reason was given publicly for Gibbs’ suspension.

          “one who had to be convinced to stay on”
          That ignores the reasons he had to be convinced to stay on, and ignores that those reasons were why Sina couldn’t be convinced to stay on.

          ” and who waited until he was sure he was going to graduate before changing what he said publicly up to that point.”
          So assuming you’ve got it right that he was doubting he’d graduate: You expected him, at the time when he had only one option to play next year (SHU), to make an announcement that he’d prefer another option, but would come back to Seton Hall if no other option to play next year becomes available? That would be a dumb move. He did what anyone should do in a free country: While you have only one option available for work/school, don’t announce to the powers that provide that single option, that you wish you had another option.

          Fair to lay out a case for Willard’s other contributions, unfair (and unfounded as you laid it out, IMO) to knock those kids’ characters.