Defending champion Carmen’s Crew of The Basketball Tournament (TBT) may feature mostly Ohio State alums, but they have implemented a few additional pieces that also make a profound difference.
One of those “others” is Columbus, Ohio native and former NCAA Division III standout Jeff Gibbs, a 6-2 forward that starred for nearby Otterbein University in Westerville. Nearing his 40th birthday next month, the ageless wonder is now back for a second go-around with former Buckeyes in the winner-take-all event at Nationwide Arena.
Gibbs started every game last summer as Carmen’s Crew took the crown, winning the $2 million prize with a victory over the Golden Eagles (Marquette alumni) at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. He averaged over 12 points and five rebounds across the final three games.
“It was exciting last year,” Gibbs said. “I was really happy to join the camaraderie they have and be part of the team. I think we are even deeper now at all spots. If we play the same and maintain our intensity, we have a good chance to win it again.”
Gibbs, who returns to Columbus every summer, emailed Scoonie Penn and Jared Sullinger back in February of 2019 asking to be on the team. He then played in the Brick League with Leon Rodgers, former Northern Illinois standout and a member of the Buckeye-heavy TBT club. Rodgers eventually told Gibbs they needed post players and asked if he would join the roster.
"Jeff used to play open gym with us down on campus, so we had been familiar with him for a while," said shooting guard Jon Diebler, who played for Ohio State from 2007-11. "He was someone that we were definitely interested in adding when you consider his ability on the court and who he is as a person."
Gibbs was a two-sport All-American for the Cardinals, graduating with school records for most receiving yards (2,476) and touchdowns (29) as a standout tight end on the football field…
His dominance reached an even higher level on the basketball floor, leading Otterbein to the 2002 national championship as the runaway National Player of the Year. Gibbs, who plays much bigger than his frame and features massive hands, graduated with 1,924 points and a program record 1,496 rebounds. He posted 25 and 25 in the title game as a senior.
Gibbs isn’t done just yet despite 17 years overseas, and plans to honor the upcoming final year on his deal in Japan where he has won a title, been first team all-league, made the All-Star Game and been named Defensive Player of the Year. This came after he was a 4x All-German League performer.
“My style of play has remained the same for the most part, except maybe my second quick jump isn’t what it used to be,” Gibbs added with a smile “I have to rely more on boxing out and technique now instead of just overpowering people. I also think my outside shot has developed over the years. I didn’t really have a three-point shot when I was younger.”
Gibbs resides in the Columbus are with his wife of 17 years, April, and their four children. You can watch him lace up Wednesday afternoon on ESPN at 4 p.m.