As we continue looking forward to the start of college basketball season in early November, our early preview of the team continues with one of the team’s few returning big men and a player expected to contribute significant minutes this season – forward Thomas Gipson. Gipson, a junior from Cedar Hill, TX, started 22 games as a freshman but has never truly taken off. Wildcat fans are hoping this is the year he pulls the transition from role player to force in the paint. At 6’7″ he won’t be the tallent player on the court, but his 265 pound frame is unafraid to push people around.
Gipson played in all 35 of K-State’s games as a sophomore, getting the starting nod in 14. However, he was fourth on the team in minutes played (18.7/game) as Jordan Henriquez typically started in front of Gipson but lacked the endurance to stay in the game long. Thomas led all players that saw at least ten minutes of action per game in field goal percentage, knocking down 51.7 percent of his shots. He also provided 5.0 rebounds and 7.9 points per contest.
With Henriquez exhausting his eligibility and graduating this spring, Gipson should be Bruce Weber’s starter even if the Wildcats pursue a line up similar to last year that often saw four guards and one forward on the court. The biggest impediment to keeping Gipson on the court last year was foul trouble – playing against bigger teams most games, he was entrusted to take on centers while giving up 4-5 inches of height. His 83 fouls were more than any other player on the team, and often led to early benchings with Nino Williams and DJ Johnson providing relief.
Gipson will undoubtedly miss Angel Rodriguez and Rodney McGruder this year. Rodriguez was capable of slashing to the basket and drawing inside defenders before finding open teammates, while McGruder often took on a second defender whenever he got close to the basket. With both gone, it’s imperative that Gipson be ready to not only bully people around on defense but show a more refined scoring touch as an upperclassman. K-State has multiple guards – it needs him to step up and be the team’s go-to forward. Word is that he’s dropped 25 pounds from last year when he played at closer to 290 versus the current 265. Gipson has always been a beast in the weight room, but it looks like he’s dropping weight to increase his endurance and quickness on the floor. Said #42 on his slimmed down body:
I’m lighter on my feet, I’m jumping quicker and jumping higher. I’m not as winded as I used to be running up and down the court. I just feel lighter and feel better about myself. It boosted my confidence.
Now that’s something fans like to hear.