MAHONE: Gibbons leaving CSU in better shape

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

He has been a fixture on the Clayton State men’s basketball team sidelines for the last 12 seasons.

And during that time, Gordon Gibbons has transformed the once-little-known program into an elite Div. II program. Clayton State started with a modest beginning when the school first elected to compete in basketball on the intercollegiate level.

Gibbons is the second-longest tenured coach in the Peach Belt Conference, but that run will soon come to an end.

A few weeks ago, Gibbons announced that he was stepping down from the program that he helped build. He gave no immediate plans, but indicated that the time was right for him to step away.

There is probably still a lot more basketball for Gibbons to coach, but his mission at Clayton State will come to an end after this season.

On Saturday, he will walk — or maybe stomp, holler, scream and mostly coach with a profound passion on the Clayton State sideline for the last time. The Lakers host Georgia Southwestern on Saturday in the last home game of the season.

After nearly a week off, Clayton State will close the season at Columbus State on March 2.

School administrators vowed to have a national search for a coach. And there will probably be some very well qualified applicants.

However, the mark that Gibbons left on this Div. II school will be hard to match.

Those accomplishments stretch beyond the school’s gymnasium. Many local high school coaches have benefited from Gibbons being a part of this community.

North Clayton coach Martisse Troup calls Gibbons, “ a mentor to me.”

While his coaching ability is unchallenged, Gibbons was even a better person. That might sound like a cliché’, but it fits him.

There was never a time that I didn’t want into the Athletes and Activities Center on campus and not feel welcomed.

They say first impressions are lasting ones, and my first encounter with Gibbons is something I’ll always remember.

As I was being introduced to him by the school’s sports information director, Gibbons interrupted and said he knew who I was, and was happy to have me covering Clayton State.

Win or lose, Gibbons was always available to give his assessment of the game to an eager reporter. He would always make time for our newspaper.

Gibbons has been a great ambassador for Clayton State basketball. He is nationally known, but yet very humble.

If you want to know his basketball accomplishments, you have to read them in his bio, because he never, as the old saying goes, toots his own horn.

Finding a new face for the Clayton State men’s program won’t be easy, because Gibbons left a huge void to fill.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.