The Sky Tower Auckland Huskies have signed Justin Bibbs to fill the roster spot left by Jeremy Kendle as they look to build on their solid 3-2 start to the season.
The 196cm combo-guard played for the Boston Celtics in the 2018 NBA Summer League and has since played in the G League for Maine Red Claws and Agua Caliente Clippers.
Huskies head coach Aaron Young is thrilled the Huskies have been able acquire a player of Justin’s quality.
“I have watched a lot of video of Justin. I think what is exciting is that he can affect the game at both ends of the court.
“He plays with a great edge and really competes.
“He comes with a lot of experience having played four years at Division I college with Virginia Tech and two really good stints in the G League with the Clippers and Maine.
“He’s played with some high level players and I was really impressed with the way he controlled the game particularly from an offensive point of view. He doesn’t force a lot of things, he’s good in transition and just makes an impact whenever he is on the floor.”
Bibbs comes as the Huskies have lost two on the bounce after a 3-0 start the season. The two losses come off the back of star import Jeremy Kendle leaving the team after his agreed 3-game stint came to an end in stunning style, with a game winning three pointer to sink the Nelson Giants.
Bibbs will get out of MIQ on Monday and hopefully be in line for selection for the road trip to Wellington on May 28 although Young admitted the workload of his new signing will have to be monitored.
“Him getting out on Monday is better than Thursday,” he quipped.
“Everyone adapts differently. I’ve been in constant communication with him and he says he has been putting plenty of work in.
“It will definitely take him three or four days to get his legs back so we will be trying to get him back to 100% as quickly as we can without pushing him too hard and then having setbacks.
“He’s an athletic guy and still young so I think he will be fine.”
Naturally Bibbs still has the desire to play in the NBA but his immediate focus is on helping the Huskies.
“I’m a utility player who is keen to take on whatever role the coach wants.
“I try not to force things, just remain within the rhythm of the game, contributing on both offense and defense.”
It is the first time the 25-year old from Dayton, Ohio has played professionally outside the USA and admits to not knowing a great deal about New Zealand.
“I know you have excellent wineries and it’s an English speaking country so I’m very happy about that. I’ve also been looking out my hotel room trying to get some idea about driving on the left hand side of the road,” he mused.
He played for the USA gold medal winning team at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece.
Making such a prestigious team is amongst his career high-points although Bibbs admits the selection camp prior to the championships was brutal.
“There were about 40 players initially and every day numbers would dwindle as players were cut.”
It was then on to Virginia Tech University playing in the highly regarded Atlantic Coast Conference. He graduated in 2018 after playing 127 games, 116 as a starter for the Hokies.
A 4-year starter Bibbs reflects, “We were terrible in my first year but I got to play a lot and by the end we were a team nobody wanted to play.”
In his senior year he averaged 13.3 points per game, shooting 40% from beyond the arc, finishing his career with 1,457 career points - ranked 17th all-time at Virginia Tech.
The 2021 Sky Tower Auckland Huskies:
Nick Barrow, Justin Bibbs (USA), Taki Fahrensohn, Reuben Fitzgerald, Ana Haku, Chris Johnson (USA), Theo Johnson, Chris McIntosh, Sean Murphy, Zach Riley, Brook Ruscoe, Dontae Russo-Nance, Kiani Saxon, Jackson Smyth and Tom Vodanovich.
The Huskies next home game will be on Friday May 21st against Hawkes Bay Hawks at Eventfinda Stadium, tip-off 7.30pm.