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Seton Hall Prep's T.J. Gibbs goes hard to the basket against Pope John in this past season's Non-Public, North A final at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The Pirates' 6-2 junior guard has announced his commitment to Notre Dame where he will play his college basketball starting in 2016-2017 school year. (Photos by Richard Morris/SHP)

T.J. Gibbs (14) is one of the best in the state at driving with authority to the basket

The acrobatic T.J. Gibbs attempts a reverse scoop shot against Pope John

(continued from page 1)

The oldest brother, Ashton, who starred collegiately at Pittsburgh, is second on the Pirates’ points list at 1,882 points (from 2004-2008).

T.J., who is currently fifth on that exclusive SHP scoring list at 1,349 points with a full season yet to go, said that Ashton - who recently returned from playing professional basketball overseas in Lebanon - will now try to get into coaching.

As far as Sterling’s apparent commitment to UConn, T.J. indicated he knew nothing about that as of Monday morning and that he would have loved for his brother to go to college in South Bend, if that were still possible, even if the two would never actually play on the same team since T.J. will be busy with his senior high school season with SHP in 2015-2016.

“I really don’t know what Sterling has in mind, but I would definitely like to see him go to Notre Dame,” said T.J. “It’s been a real busy stretch for me, and we haven’t talked lately about what he’s been up to as far as his next destination.”

As far as T.J.’s ceiling as a player, it appears yet to be untapped. He averaged 19.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game for the 25-2 Pirates, who won the Essex County Tournament championship and reached the Non-Public, North A state sectional final before falling to eventual Tournament of Champions runner-up Pope John.

“The sky is the limit for T.J. and Notre Dame is a perfect fit for him,” said SHP coach Kevin Williams. “He developed a great rapport with coach Brey and his staff and he fits in well with their style of play.”

Williams, who graduated from Providence, said he never tried to influence his star guard in the college process.

“Recruiting can get crazy and kids are committing earlier and earlier it seems, but I believe T.J. went about it all in the right way, and I did not want to try and influence him during the process,” continued the SHP head hoops coach. “I know he loves playing at Seton Hall Prep and now he’s going to be headed to a great university both in terms of basketball and academics, and that’s what I’m most pleased about.”

Notre Dame is coming off a banner season in which it captured its first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship and reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1979.

The team graduates a bulk of its lineup and sophomore Demetrius Jackson is expected to be the Fighting Irish point guard next winter. Whether he stays beyond next season and then opts to enter the NBA draft, remains to be seen, but there should be plenty of opportunities for Gibbs to compete for a key role in the ND backcourt when he arrives on campus for the 2016-2017 school year there.

“I look forward to competing for a starting job and playing in their system,” said Gibbs. “I know many of the players from AAU basketball and other places, and I just have a good feel about everything in terms of both the basketball program and the strong academics at Notre Dame.”

Gibbs plays spring and summer ball for the Playaz, run by longtime AAU hoops guru Jimmy Salmon.

“I’ll continue to be with the Playaz, and then also get ready for my senior season at the Prep,” said the highly-rated Pirates junior backcourt ace. “We want to defend our county title and also win a (Non-Public A) state championship next season, and I know we’re capable of some great things.”

The Pirates will return other key players next winter, including current junior guard Stephen Ferraro (11.5 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.0 spg), junior forward Zach Keller (7.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg), who is a major college football recruit as one of the nation’s top schoolboy quarterbacks, and sophomore forward Treyvon Bennett (5.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg).

Of the current SHP seniors, forward Kelly Hogan appears headed to Wesleyan (Conn.) while guard Doug Gertner will play his college hoops at New York University.

“We will get together after the baseball season is over in June, and get ready for the summer ahead,” said Williams. “We will be involved with some of our kids in the Bloomfield Team Camp and also once again enter the Linden Summer League.

“Plus, kids will be involved with their AAU teams and summer camps as well.”

For T.J. Gibbs, it’s time to enjoy the rest of the spring and summer ahead with a major load off his mind.

“The college recruiting process can be tough at times, but I’m just so happy now to have the decision behind me so I can focus on what’s ahead,” said the future Notre Dame point guard. “There is so much to love about Notre Dame and I look forward to whatever lies ahead for me there because I know if will be a great life experience on and off the court!”

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Seton Hall Prep's T.J. Gibbs averaged 19.2 ppg this past winter for the 25-2 Pirates

Senior forward Kelly Hogan (15), one of T.J. Gibbs' longtime SHP Pirate teammates, will play at Wesleyan next winter as he moves on to college arena in 2015-2016 campaign.

Senior guard Doug Gertner (seated, near left) looks on the court during post-game as SHP Pirates are presented their awards as the 2015 ECT champs and head coach Kevin Williams (standing, right) accepts congratulations from someone behind team bench at the Essex County College gym. Gertner will play Division III hoops at NYU next year.

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