Marcus Gilbert Developing Into Star At Fairfield

Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson always knew there was something special about Marcus Gilbert.

The fourth-year head coach of the Stags, who would eventually land Marcus’s older brother Malcolm – who transferred from Pitt, had been recruiting the family since his days at Princeton, but it was when the the younger Gilbert reached the practice floor for the first time that Johnson knew the 6’6″ guard could be a special player.

Marcus Gilbert guarded by Zaid Hearst and Justin Harris
Fairfield junior Marcus Gilbert (right) helped deliver the Stags first two victories in conference play.

“From the first week of practice, with him as a freshman, I knew he was going to be good,” Johnson said. “I knew that he had a chance to be one of the better players in our league.”

“His maturity and his seriousness about doing what we ask, and getting good at the things that we challenged him to get good at, they were at a high level in his first week of practice. As a freshman, it was almost like he was like he was approaching things like a junior and senior.”

By December of his first season, Gilbert was entrusted as part of a starting lineup led by seniors Derek Needham, Colin Nickerson, and Des Wade. Needham found the freshman at Saint Joseph’s and tossed a clean pass so Gilbert could drain a three that would put the Stags up 56-54 with just over two minutes to go.

“Marcus was the one who hit one of the big shots down the stretch and those guys were looking for him,” Johnson said. “[Needham] had eyes in the back of his head and found Marcus at the top of the key, so for a senior who’s scored that many points and has been all-conference to be looking for a freshman to make that kind of shot; it just showed that you can’t fake that.”

“Players know players and our three senior guards recognized that Marcus could be a helpful piece, for that season, and certainly be one of the key guys moving forward for the program.”

Needham delivered the game-winner with 16 seconds left to give the Stags a 60-57 win at Saint Joseph’s, but it would not have come without two go-ahead three’s from Gilbert in the game’s final five minutes.

Since that time the 6’6″ junior has been a staple in the starting lineup for the Stags and on most nights a key reason Fairfield walks away with victories. It was his 17 points against Manhattan last season, when the Jaspers could not find Gilbert in transition or outside the three-point line, where he hurt them and delivered the Stags’ first league win. He tortured Manhattan again this season, scoring a season-high 24 points and proving to be a nightmare for the Jaspers to cover yet again.

Fairfield junior Marcus Gilbert throws down a dunk against Manhattan.
Fairfield junior Marcus Gilbert throws down a dunk in the first half against Manhattan.

Gilbert helped deliver the team’s second victory in conference play, when his 25-foot three-pointer in the game’s final seconds rattled in. He sent the Stags’ game at Quinnipiac to overtime, where they would prevail 56-52, his only three-pointer made on the day being the one to push the game past 40 minutes.

“I mean the kid’s got a bit of swagger, whatever the new word is for that,” Johnson said. “When we went down to Duke, tough game, but he looked like he belonged.”

Entering today he not only leads the Stags with 14.8 points per game, but is the seventh highest scorer amongst MAAC players. The 6’6″ junior put up 15 points in 30 minutes before fouling out in their loss to Duke, Gilbert though did make an impression on the opposing team.

“Number 14, the kid [Marcus] Gilbert, is a really good player,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after their 109-59 win over the Stags. “He’ll be one of the best players in their league, if not the best player because he can shoot the heck out of the ball.”

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s