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Gibson brings maturity even as newest Bull
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/30/2009 12:00 AM

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NBA teams love to draft young players with sizable upside. But maturity also can be a helpful characteristic.

Six-foot-10 Forward Taj Gibson, chosen by the Bulls with the 26th pick of the first round, fits the older-and-wiser label.

Even after spending just three years at USC, Gibson is 24, which makes him 14 months older than new teammate Tyrus Thomas, who is headed into his fourth NBA season.

One might suspect bad grades as a reason it took Gibson a few years to get through high school, but that wasn't the case.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Gibson attended a local school through eighth grade. When it came time for high school, his parents, Sharon and Wilbert, didn't like the options and he was home-schooled for two years.

"The gangs were real heavy," Gibson said. "I was supposed to go to a school that was real far from my home, in a bad area. My mom basically just saw my friends get in a lot of trouble, fighting, getting locked up. They basically told me, 'We're not sending you to that school.' "

Gibson wanted to go and try out for the high school team. But he didn't have final say and played only AAU basketball during the summers, while delivering furniture and working as a carpenter.

Eventually, he was able to attend a boarding school in Southern California, Stoneridge Prep, and made it to USC three years later.

Practice makes perfect: Asked how he will fit in on a Bulls roster that already includes forwards Luol Deng, John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas, first-round draft pick James Johnson gave a remarkably unselfish answer.

"I'm just going to play hard, play my game," Johnson said. "If they're crowded and those players that are already there are doing a great job, then I'm going to be a great practice player to help them keep doing that great job.

"I want to go further than the first round (of the playoffs) any way possible, regardless if I'm playing or not playing."

Tyrus wants to start: According to his blog entry on, Tyrus Thomas vowed to fend off challenges from the Bulls' two rookie forwards.

"I keep getting the question, 'What's up with the two forwards?' " Thomas' entry read. "Let me say this, I'm the starting power forward and I don't plan on playing anywhere but Chicago. Some may say I'm arrogant, or full of myself, some may even say I'm crazy! I'm just giving y'all the truth."

Bull horns: Former Bulls guard Randy Brown is expected to rejoin the organization as a player-development coach. He was an assistant in Sacramento the past two seasons. - The Bulls planned to give center Aaron Gray a qualifying offer Monday, securing the right to match any offer he gets in free agency. -

The Bulls have an option for next season on guard Anthony Roberson, and he may join the team's Las Vegas summer-league entry. - The first of the Bulls' five summer-league games is July 14 against Golden State.