The first thing you notice about Savannah State practice is the constant motion.
It’s the perfect environment for athletic junior center Bria Gibbs, who took the long route to Savannah State after committing to Presbyterian College in South Carolina out of high school.
“I played there for two years and ultimately it came down to the fact that I just wasn’t happy with the way the program was being run,” Gibbs said of her time in Clinton. “My love for the game was not where it used to be.”
When it was time for Gibbs to transfer after the canceled 2020 season, Savannah State head coach Cedric Baker had her top of mind after recruiting Gibbs in high school.
“It was just a combination of her being mentally, physically and academically ready to make that transition into the program,” Baker said.
For Gibbs, fitting in on The Marsh goes much deeper than just her basketball skills: both her parents attended historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina.
“I grew up, a lot of my early years, on the campus of an HBCU,” Gibbs said. “Everyone was friendly and felt like family. My mother’s students used to take care of me while she was in class and braid my hair and stuff like that. Coming here gave me that sense of community back that I felt like I was missing.”
So far, the Tigers are one of just three teams in all of Division II to not lose a game yet, and Gibbs is as big of a reason as anyone. She’s averaging a team-high 28.3 minutes per game with 13 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game to go along with it.
“She’s a true back-to-the-basket post player, but at the same time, she can step out and knock down the 10-foot jump shot and she can drive to the basket in one or two dribbles,” Baker said.
“We were running on the track for preseason miles and miles a day, running sprints so many times a day as a team and we’re all getting that result that we all wanted,” Gibbs added.
That hard work on the court can sometimes mix with a little bit of fun off of it.
“She kind of the one that organizes Thanksgiving dinner or where they’re all going to go out and is just a resource for her team,” Baker said.
It’s the actions of a player that spent a long time searching for a home and finally found one.