After playing in just 19 games as a freshman at Pittsburgh, 6-11 center Malcolm Gilbert made the decision to transfer to Fairfield at the end of the 2012 fall semester. While there was the “search for more playing time” factor, Gilbert’s decision was also influenced by the fact that his brother Marcus is a member of the Fairfield basketball program.
The one question regarding Malcolm’s status for the 2013-14 season: would the NCAA make him eligible to see action from the start? The answer to that question was learned Thursday, as multiple outlets have reported that Gilbert is eligible to play immediately.
Gilbert’s status gives the Stags another front court body to go along with key contributors Maurice Barrow and Amadou Sidibe, with the former being Fairfield’s leading returning scorer since guard Derek Needham has graduated. Fairfield finished the 2012-13 season with a 19-16 record, going 9-9 in MAAC play. Fairfield finished in the top half of the MAAC in most of the major rebounding categories, and adding a player of Malcolm Gilbert’s size has the potential to be an asset.
A look at Fairfield’s schedule reveals how important the additional size is. The Stags will take part in the Naismith Tip-Off Classic in late November, playing defending national champion Louisville in the first contest and then either North Carolina or Richmond the following day. Five days later the Stags visit old friend Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars, who have the potential to be an NCAA tournament team with their combination of talented returnees (Kadeem Batts and Bryce Cotton being two) and highly-touted newcomers.
Fairfield will also face three reigning regular season champions in Northeastern (CAA), Belmont (OVC) and Bucknell (Patriot League) in addition to a 20-game MAAC schedule (with Monmouth and Quinnipiac joining the league, there will be a 20-game full round robin slate). Given Malcolm Gilbert’s limited playing time at Pitt it’s tough to forecast immediate greatness, but adding size to the rotation is a positive for head coach Sydney Johnson.