The Grind, Presented by Bank of Clarendon: What's driving RJ Gibson? Star guard at Scott's Branch motivated by more than championships


For Randy "RJ" Gibson, basketball is going to be the thing that allows him to make it. He realized that from a young age.

Scott's Branch has a bona fide hooper on its roster in RJ. The senior point guard hopes to lead the Eagles to a state title after losing the SCHSL 1A championship game in each of the last three seasons.

"I knew I was good at basketball when I was playing recreation and I was scoring 25 or 30 points," RJ said. "I was outdoing everybody. This was around age 6, and I was playing against 7- and 8-year-olds. I started playing basketball when I was 3 or 4 when my mom bought me my first goal. I stayed right down the street from a park and have been playing all my life. I saw many people play, many legendary people down at the park, and I just wanted to be like them when I grew up.

"The game has never really been hard for me. Physically, I was always was at the level of everyone else. I would say the transition from eighth grade to varsity was a big adjustment. It was a faster pace from middle school, thinking over defense and stuff like that. That was challenging when I first started."

He tries to model his game after a familiar point guard from the area.

"I watch a lot of Ja Morant," he said of the Crestwood High School alumnus and current NBA star. "My play style is like his, getting to the rim and hitting easy pull ups and being explosive. Obviously I can't jump like him yet, but Ja is one of my favorites. Kyrie Iriving has been my favorite from the jump, and I like Scoot Henderson, as well."


RJ speaks with a tone of maturity and appreciation when talking about his future and what his family means to him.

He knows how far the game can take him and understands the importance his family has had in putting him in that position.

"I'm really just trying to look out for my family," RJ said. "I believe that I can get us to the next level so we don't have to worry about anything and when I have kids they won't have to worry about anything. I started thinking about things in sixth grade. Looking at contracts and seeing what they can do. I wanted that for my family. We weren't struggling, but at the same time it would be nice."

He credits his cousins for him being left handed on the court and his close family for making the sacrifices to get him where he's at.

"My biggest sister, Marquiesia, since fourth grade when I first started playing AAU, she would take out her time to drive me to these different states just to play on the weekends and then come back and work a full time job," RJ said. "Her just believing in me, believing in my dream, I'd say that she's helped me the most.

"My mom has always just been doing it all. She's made sure that I've gotten what I've needed. Anything I needed or anything I asked for, her and my dad have made it happen. I want to pay them back for their sacrifices. I want to make them smile and make them go, 'My son did it.' For my sisters, make them say that their brother did it. They believed in me and trusted me."

RJ lost his sister, Kimberly Davis, to breast cancer last year. It was a loss that affected him tremendously but also added another level of inspiration to keep going.

"Things happen, and I feel like everybody goes through things," RJ explained." I felt like she wanted me to do great things. I feel like she would want me to continue to chase my dreams. That's what she used to always tell me. I want to also make her proud."


RJ has an affinity for two things off of the court: shoes and cars.

He claims to be a bit of a sneakerhead, with personal Air Jordan favorites like the UNC 6s, Last Shot 14s, Patent 1s along with various Kyrie Irving basketball shoes and New Balance sneakers.

The love for cars comes from his dad.

"It started when my dad bought me a Camaro and him having a Corvette, and I'm driving a Corvette now," RJ said. "I grew up around cars. My family owns a race track in Silver. I've been around cars my whole life. Every weekend if there isn't basketball on Saturdays and Sundays, I'm probably at the racetrack."


RJ is a competitor through and through.

Being a two-sport athlete has been in his DNA since he was young. Despite his basketball success, he made the decision to play football again for the Eagles this fall because it was another opportunity to compete.

"Coach (Randall) State was the reason I came back to play football this year," RJ explained. "He came from Kingstree and wanted me to come play. He saw what I was capable of doing and what I could bring to the table. This season, I was pushing my teammates. I enjoyed pushing them to their limits because I also want to see them do great things. It's not just their parents or our coaches, I just wanted to be that role model for them."

Basketball is what brings out the best in him as a competitor. Whether it's the regular season or AAU play or even just prepping in the off-season, he's going 110%. He's hoping his efforts can finally help the Eagles clinch the state title they've been so close to possessing.

"I remember the past three years, the day after the state championship I was going to hit in the weight room and getting jump shots up," the senior said. " My coach was like, 'Oh, you're not gonna take a break?' I would say there's no need if I wasn't hurt or anything. It is a mentality that I've developed as I've gotten older knowing this is what it takes to be good at the next level.

"Obviously, I want us to get back to the state championship again. We already know that we can do it, we just have to get back to that level and push. For myself, I expect to do the same things that I've been doing.

What RJ has been doing on the court has been getting noticed. He has three-straight All-State selections and was voted the preseason player of the year in Region IV-1A. The awards are nice, but they aren't what drives him.

"I kind of don't worry about the accolades because they don't really matter, but I'm grateful for them," RJ admitted. "I'd say in 10th grade it stopped being as fun getting the awards. It wasn't a surprise, and I was getting the same thing over and over.

"Regardless of those, the expectation is the same thing as the other years, I'm just trying to win. I believe that we have enough to get it done. People think that just because we lost our senior leaders that we're going to fall over but we still believe in us. I believe that this is the year we can get over the hump."