After a hard day of work outs at the Red Auerbach center in Boston, Boston Celtic rookie and Ohio native Justin Bibbs slouches back to his hotel like a tattered famished dog looking to shut off the basketball radar for a little time, but doesn´t do the typical free time activities that many guys might perform like breaking out the play station or walking the one block down the street to the sports bar to get the daily dose of sports, but sits down at a table with a piece pf paper and drawing utensils. The rookie looks like and plays like a very good basketball player, but he doesn´t only have precision artistic shooting on his resume, but also has artistic precision as he is a very talented drawer and has been doing it since he was a kid. When you ask the ex Virginia Tech guard about his zeal for drawing, his big eyes light up like the John Hancock building does when the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots win a world championship. “When I was growing up, I was always watching cartoons and after watching the matrix movie, I started to draw trial and error. It was self-taught and I still do it today. I did a Dwayne Wade drawing when I was in high school. It is weird when I was a kid, I drew a Lebron James, but now that I am of age and have the possibility to play against him, I would never draw him now. Now I like to draw entertainers and musicians. I like to take random pictures and draw away”, stressed Justin Bibbs. Every day the American could have serious aches and pains just from turning his head back and forth seeing the amazing basketball excellence of guys like Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown or a Jaysun Tatum and just get total inspiration for new drawings, but instead would rather draw Celtic legends instead of his current teammates. “I wouldn´t want to draw a current teammate, but rather Paul Pierce. I always looked up to him growing up. He wasn´t just a shooter, but an all-around great scorer”, smiled Justin Bibbs. His favorite own drawing is a Kobe Bryant when he had the afro. He gave it to his grad assistant at Virginia Tech who was a big Kobe Bryant fan. Not only did his artistic precision begin at a young age, but so did his basketball precision.
Justin Bibbs was born on January 14th 1996 in Dayton, Ohio and began his basketball trade at Chaminade Julienne High School and received additional basketball training at Montverde Academy in Florida from 2012-2014 and helped lead the school to two state championships and had an unbeaten record of 28-0 in his senior year. Not only having this amazing winning record helped the smooth integration to Virginia Tech, but also being away from home helped with his maturity. “My time there helped me more off the court. By being away from home helped me early at Virginia Tech getting accustomed to everything and it made me less dependent”, stressed Justin Bibbs. He then played at Virginia Tech from 2014-2018 amassing a total of 128 NCAA games and averaged double figures in scoring in three of four seasons and reached two NCAA tournaments and a NIT Sweet 16. Bibbs was a solid scorer at Virginia Tech, but not a dominant scorer, but he wouldn´t trade that fact for anything, because he was a team player. “The way I played there is who I am today. I am a very unselfish player and am always willing to do the best for the team. I became the glue guy. I was guarding the opposing team´s best player chasing him around the court, but at the same time knocking down open shots and creating for myself”, stated Justin Bibbs. He became an impact player quickly as a freshman playing 29 games averaging 11.4ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 65.3% and has fond memories of his two teammates then Adam Smith who is balling in Europe and young German Malik Mueller. “You could say that the precision shooting of Smith rubbed off on me. I remember when he hit that first one, he would hit the next so we would design the next play for him. Mueller always talked about his home country Germany and compared the food and lifestyle to here. I am happy he is doing well in Germany and still keep in touch with him today”, smiled Justin Bibbs.
The American who lists 2018 Los Angeles Clippers draft pick Jerome Robinson of Boston College as his toughest opponent in the NCAA despite always beating him was a consistent player at Virginia Tech scoring in double figures in 76 of 128 games and reached 20 points or more in 10 games. His best scoring games were against Wake Forest where he dropped 32 points, he hit Grambling State for 31 points on seven try´s and scorched Washington for 30 points. He remembers the bad and good moments at Virginia Tech with a smile on his face where one would get the impression that his NCAA experience was a good one. “My last NCAA game against Alabama was one of my toughest loses. Going back into the locker room for the last time with the guys was a tough pill to swallow. I knew that I had given my best. My nicest moment was beating Duke on senior night where we were down by 20 at half-time and came back and won. Beating then undefeated UVM was also one of my best wins. The team wins stuck out more than my individual best games”, stated Justin Bibbs. In his senior year at Virginia Tech, he had his best scoring season playing 31 games averaging 13.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 74.5%. After shooting above 40% in his first three seasons including having the shooting out the lights mentality in his second season at 45%, he just missed the 40% mark at 39,8%, but knows that his development wouldn´t have been the same without his head coach Buzz Williams. “He has a great ethic and told me every day how important it is to be willing to work. I remember him telling us stories about how he coached Wes Matthews and Jimmy Butler and their strong will to work. Not every guy has the desire to work. He told us even when you don´t want to get out of bed, you have to go to the gym and get better. Getting better is his motto”, warned Justin Bibbs.
After his stellar NCAA career at Virginia Tech, he wasn´t drafted, but he showed his talent once again at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) playing 3 games averaging 9.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 40.7%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 50.0%. His sheer talent got interest from the Boston Celtics and they invited him to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, NV playing 6 games averaging 5.0ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 44.4%. He put up solid stats in limited minutes and did the best he can in a world there where most guys play for stats and an NBA job. Bibbs was rewarded with an exhibit 10 contract. He now is part of the Boston Celtics and living the NBA dream. If he doesn´t make the team, he most likely will play in the G-League with Maine and injuring his hand that will have him sidelined for two months hasn´t helped his chances, but just being in an NBA atmosphere with one of the top organizations has kept him positive. What many don´t know is that his uncle is legendary ex NFL corner back Michael Haynes who won the Superbowl with the Raiders and is a 9 time NFL All Pro, but began his career in 1976 with the new England Patriots and played six seasons in New England. “Being part of the Celtics organization means a lot to me. It is such an honor to play for this organization. I feel the pride when I step into the building seeing all the banners and the retired numbers. The coaching staff expects excellence and Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge have been great. Every day they ask me how my hand is doing. It is a real blessing to be here. That I am here and my uncle played here is coincidental. I have been in contact with him and he will try to visit me soon. His son is a freshman at Boston College now”, said Justin Bibbs. Coming from the NCAA ranks to the NBA is never an easy transition, but he is coping with the slight changes. “The biggest transition has been the practices. We have to apply what we just learned from coach Stevens in 5-5 play. It is a very quick turnaround and you have to learn a lot quicker”, added Justin Bibbs. The big black eyes of Bibbs also light up when he describes the work ethic of his teammates. He couldn´t be in a better place than in Boston to soak up as much basketball know how from the experienced coaching staff and his teammates who come to work every day, because they know that after last season that something special is looming on the basketball horizon. “I appreciate most being around so many great professionals being able to watch their work ethic. Just watching Kyrie Irving do drills or seeing how Aaron Baynes is the first and last in the weight room and how they take care of their bodies is helpful. I am just a student and take in as much as possible and apply to my life”, stressed Justin Bibbs.
It is no secret that Bibbs who has been compared to CJ Miles is an exceptional shooter and being able to do one thing exceptionally well in the NBA is something that teams want and he is ok with that three and d label. His eyes light up again when he hears the label. “That is what´s it all about. This is something I want to get better at, but at the same time, I don´t want to neglect other parts of my game”, added Justin Bibbs. He knows that his shooting will turn heads, but also understands that his defense could make or break him and decide whether he is flying to cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles rather than to cities like Grand Rapids, Erie or Austin. “I want to show my willingness to have multiple effects on defense stopping my man from scoring. Having this willingness helps many guys stay longer on the court. I have gotten compliments on my defense here. I also want to work on my shooting and attacking closeouts and making different reads. Also being comfortable being a good one on one player”, expressed Justin Bibbs. Working on refining his defense is something that has gone well so far, but he knows that his shooting is his bread and butter and he is confident that he can shoot at 40% clip or better from outside in he NBA. “I haven´t changed up anything on my shooting techniques, but being prepared best for getting the ball. The NBA is a lot quicker so you have to have your hands and feet more ready than before”, said Justin Bibbs.
Bibbs has raved about the amazing work ethic that ranges from the coaching staff to the players and has that wow reaction every day when he sees Kyrie “uncle Drew” Irving do his magic, but also very thankful for his honesty. “All Kyrie does is wow. Whenever he has the ball and is doing his thing, you never think he can pull it off with the angles and the defense, but he always pulls it off. In open gym, no mater what team he is son, he keeps everyone accountable. If you slack, he will let you know”, commented Justin Bibbs. But it isn´t just the older heads and more experiences guys, but also the young blood like Jaylen Brown who has an intense work ethic, but also Jayson Tatum who he sees becoming an NBA superstar down the road. Back in 2015 Bibbs and Tatum were teammates on the American youth national team and he remembers seeing a guy that already had all the tools then for stardom. “I saw his potential back then when I played against him in practice and was teammates with him. He stood out there from the rest. It is cool that he did great at Duke and is doing great now in the NBA”, added Justin Bibbs. But it isn´t just the players that have had a very positive impact on him, but also the coaching staff especially Brad Stevens. “He is very open. Not only him, but all the coaches are very nice and care. They just want you to get better. Coach Stevens has taught me different ways how to play defense and showing me how to get on shooters well. The name J J Reddick continues to come up a lot in those discussions”, smiled Justin Bibbs. Being able to learn is always helped when the environment is stable and with the Boston Celtics the rookie feels very comfortable no player stands above the rest, but the term team is something that is seemingly etched in stone while ego´s are non-present. “I really didn´t know what to expect coming in, but it has ben a cool experience. I have had nice discussions with Daniel Theis about tattoos, but the allstars have been great also. Guys like Horford, Irving and Haywood are all nice people and cool to talk to. There are no ego´s and they are genuine good people and it is cool to see how they operate”, smiled Justin Bibbs. The NBA experience of Justin Bibbs is a little more than two months old and he is still far away from Europe, but he knows it will always be there. For now the American is very happy where he is with the Boston Celtics and is getting the total best NBA experience. In his four years at Virginia Tech, he always had the famous Buzz Williams phrase chiseled in his mind “Get Better”. “I already had the get better attitude at Virginia Tech as I got better, but it is even more prominent now in the NBA”, warned Justin Bibbs. He will do all he can to make the Boston Celtics with his nifty artistic precision and with his get better focus will make his chances greater. His neat drawing is only a side note, but one he has a lot of fun with and with a portrait of Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew or showcasing Aaron Baynes fluffy beard in a new way will definitely give him extra points. But all in all it´s just about getting better and something his attitude will help him achieve on and off the court and that is really the only thing he knows and has done consistently since Virginia Tech so why not now in the NBA with the Boston Celtics: