Decatur High School senior guard Marcus Tibbs has always had the goal of playing Division I basketball. He will get that chance.
The 6-foot-1 shooting guard is set to play at Eastern Washington University. The Eagles are one of four Division I basketball schools in the state of Washington, along with the University of Washington, Washington State and Gonzaga. Eastern plays in the Big Sky Conference with schools like Montana, Northern Arizona and Portland State.
“I’m very excited,” Tibbs said. “It’s been my dream to play Division-I basketball.”
Tibbs had an ultra-impressive career at Decatur. The 6-foot-1 guard earned first-team, All-South Puget Sound League North Division honors following both his junior and senior seasons after leading the Gators to two-straight appearances at the Class 4A State Boys Basketball Championships.
During his senior season, Tibbs led Decatur in scoring at 18.3 points a game and scored in double figures in 28 of the Gators’ 30 games, including 12 20-point games.
His biggest scoring game of the year came during a loser-out, West Central District game against Central Kitsap on Feb. 19, when he poured in 32 of Decatur’s 63 points.
He was also solid during the 2008 state tournament, leading Decatur into the state semifinals and an eventual sixth-place finish. He was named all-tournament, first-team after averaging 16.7 points inside the Tacoma Dome, including 22 during a semifinal loss to Federal Way.
As a junior, Tibbs averaged 17 points, five rebounds and nearly three assists a game and was a key reason why the Gators won the coveted West Central District championship.
“Marcus was incredibly loyal to the Decatur basketball program,” said head coach Kevin Olson. “I am very proud of everything he has accomplished.”
The Eastern Washington coaching staff has been recruiting Tibbs heavily since his junior season at Decatur.
“They have been on me all year,” Tibbs said. “They had said they were very interested in me and when it came time, they wanted me.”
Eastern is coached by Kirk Earlywine and finished the 2007-08 season with an 11-19 record, including 6-10 in the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles last played at the NCAA Tournament in 2004.
Tibbs’ decision came down to Eastern and Portland State, who won the Big Sky Conference title this year. But Portland State signed Roosevelt guard Glen Dean, which swayed Tibbs’ interest to Eastern.
“They want me to play point guard, unless they find another solid point guard and then I will be a combo guard,” Tibbs said.
Tibbs will have a year to mature and get better. He is not scheduled to step on the basketball court during an Eastern Washington game next season and it’s still up in the air whether or not he will be able to practice.
Tibbs is attempting to qualify academically and will again take the SAT test on May 3. If he does post a qualifying score, Tibbs is set to red-shirt during his first year at Eastern. If he doesn’t qualify, he will still attend classes at Eastern, but not be able to practice with the team. He has been officially accepted to the school and will go to summer school in Cheney.
“I’m going to just be working out and will be able to practice if I red shirt,” Tibbs said. “If I can’t practice, I will have to do all the stuff on my own.”
According to Tibbs, he will have to pay for his first year at Eastern, but will receive a full-ride scholarship starting with the 2009-10 school year.
“We have that in writing,” Olson said. “So that’s a done deal.”
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com