Gibbs’ Barry Brown and Sajon Ford sat at tables in the school’s auditorium on Wednesday. With a pair of unwavering hands, Brown and Ford each took a pen and signed their national letters of intent to play basketball at Kansas State and Northeastern, respectively.
The Gladiators are the only Pinellas County boys basketball program to have a pair of teammates sign with Division I programs.
“Barry and Sajon set the example of what this program is supposed to look like” Gibbs coach Larry Murphy said.
Brown committed to Kansas State in September. His recruitment consisted of phone conversations with the Wildcats’ coaching staff. Kansas State was 20-13 and lost to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.
“I was nervous but more in an exciting kind of way,” Brown said of signing. “I woke up at 3 a.m. and didn’t really get much sleep. It’s kind of like those first game jitters, but this is different. This is only a one-time thing. Really, it’s the first and last time you get to do this.”
Last season, Brown averaged 20.5 points while leading the Gladiators to an 18-9 record and a berth in the Class 5A region semifinals. He also had an impressive offeason playing for his travel team, Each 1 Teach 1.
Ford also committed to Northeastern in September.
The 6-foot-11 power forward picked the Huskies over nine schools, including Auburn, Butler and Virginia Tech. He will join his older brother, Quincy, a former Gladiator standout who is a starter for Northeastern.
“I was almost jumping out of my seat waiting for this day,” Ford said. “It’s going to be a great experience to go to Northeastern and play with my brother. We’ve never really been able to play together in school.”
Last season, Ford averaged 5.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.