Gibson flying high with the Redhawks

Duck Gibson goes up at the rim soaring above his defender in a game earlier this  season. 

GARY, Ind. – Martellian “Duck” Gibson left a mark on Rantoul basketball when he graduated in 2017. 

The Eagles were 21-6 and 20-7 in Gibson’s last two seasons at Rantoul. Gibson did not stop his domination or high-flying dunks after high school. 

After graduating from RTHS, Gibson took his talents to Illinois Central College in Peoria, where he averaged scoring nine points as a freshman and 12 points as a sophomore. After two seaons with the Cougars, Gibson graduated from ICC and ended up in Gary, Ind., where he is averaging 16 points with the Indiana University Northwest Redhawks. 

Gibson gives credit to his time at RTHS for preparing him for college basketball.

“My time at RTHS really gave me confidence to play the game. When I first started playing basketball I was just playing for fun because all my friends played, so I didn’t really take it serious,” Gibson said. 

“Once I got to RTHS I was just the kid from Eater who didn’t really play much. Nobody knew that I could really play until the first game of the season when I dropped 25 points. After that people started realizing, OK he can play a little.” 

After the big first game the confidence grew from there.

“Throughout my high school career I gained more and more confidence from the coaches encouraging me, and it was nothing but up from there,” Gibson said.

Gibson felt like his game really came full circle during his stint at ICC. 

“My time at ICC went great. It helped me turn my game up a whole other level. I learned how to control my game, when to attack and when to dial it back a little,” Gibson said. “I learned how to control my emotions on the court and really learned how to lead a team.” 

Gibson said there were adjustments that needed to be made after making the jump to college.

“The biggest difference is definitely the speed of the game. Everything is faster so I had to get my body in the right shape for the game. Also the player you’re playing against was totally different; everybody can play so you had to be on your game at all times,” Gibson said. 

When choosing where to go after ICC there were a few key components that led to his decision.

“I was drawn to IUN because the basketball program has been successful the past couple of years. It is also close to home, so my family and friends can come see me play, “ Gibson said. 

“I would also get a degree from IU, which will hold weight when you’re filling out job applications.” 

Not only are Gibson’s home games close, but the Redhawks had a game against Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. 

“The game against EIU was a fun experience, coming into the game I was labeled as a key player. I got interviews and they recorded me warming up and stuff so that felt nice,” Gibson said. 

“The game itself was definitely fun all those guys on EIU were big, fast and strong but I got a chance to showcase my skills.”

Even after playing in bigger venues Gibson misses playing at RTHS.

“The biggest thing I miss from playing at RTHS is the home games. The stands were packed and all eyes on you and your team; it was a great atmosphere,” Gibson said. “I also miss playing with my brothers; we all had been playing together since middle school. We watched each other grow so we all got a bond nobody can break till this day.”

Gibson loves that he can be called a role model to the players at RTHS now.

“My message to the kids now would be don’t stop working. If you really want to do this it’s a constant grind and you have to have heart,” Gibson said. 

“Play hard and be coachable. Every coach loves a player who listens and does what they are told and plays hard all the time.” 

One way to have kids look up to you is to make memorable plays, which is what Gibson is known for.

“When I’m going up for a big dunk my first thought is I have to make this. I know my team and friends will let me know about it if I don’t make it,” Gibson said with a laugh. “Once I do make the dunk and hear everybody going crazy, I soak it in and it gives me a whole new energy boost and makes me turn it up just a little more.”

Gibson and the Redhawks’ closest game is at Lincoln University in Lincoln at 3 p.m. Jan. 11.

You can Contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP.