ROCKLAND – Rockland High stand-out basketball player Tyler Gibson might not have realized when he was on his official visit to UMass-Lowell that he would wind up committing there, but it didn’t take long for him to reach the decision once he returned home.
"The night I got home from the official visit, I just remember lying in bed and thinking to myself, 'UMass-Lowell is the right fit for me,'" said Gibson. "I loved the team aspect there, everyone just seemed like one big family. Getting to see the entire campus and working out with the guys and seeing their style of play just really made me feel like this was the place for me."
The 6-foot-6 forward/center also held an offer from Merrimack, and had planned to visit Assumption in the coming weeks, originally planning to make his decision by the early signing date in November.
His trip to UMass-Lowell, though, changed his plans.
"I'm committing to UMass-Lowell," Gibson said. "I just believe it's the best fit for me. Not just basketball, but the school aspect as well. They have a new business building that will be built in the next year or two, and I want to study finance so it'll be good for me."
Gibson, who also received interest from several other Northeast-10 schools as well as NCAA Div. 1 Bryant and Hartford, went from relatively unknown to bona fide college prospect in less than a year.
After starring for the Bulldogs at Rockland High last winter (he helped them to an 18-3 mark averaging a double-double along the way), Gibson really broke out this summer while playing AAU for the Boston Warriors.
After earning All-Tournament Honorable Mention honors at the Hall of Fame National Invitational in Springfield, Gibson averaged a double-double at AAU Nationals, after which his recruiting really took off.
"Last year at this time, no colleges were looking at me,” Gibson said. “It shows how far I've come and how much my hard work paid off."
Following his success on the hardwood for the Bulldogs last winter, Gibson fielded another kind of recruiting interest. Prep schools came calling, trying to sell Gibson on the idea that they could offer him a better recruiting opportunity than Rockland could.
Gibson ultimately passed, deciding to Rockland for his senior year.
"I'm 100 percent sure I made the right choice," Gibson said. "I wanted to stay and earn a scholarship playing for home town. I didn't want to be remembered as someone who left for prep school just so he could play in college. I want to be remembered as someone who stayed at Rockland, and went to play in college after contributing to the program before I left."
And being able to contribute to the Bulldogs on the court is the biggest reason Gibson didn’t wait to make his decision.
"I feel like I've got a monkey off my back," Gibson said. "Now I can just focus all my efforts toward winning basketball games this season."