Flashback to fall 2010. Malcolm Gilbert is entering his senior year of high school at Academy of the New Church, just outside of Philadelphia, and is being romanced and recruited by collegiate head coaches across the country to come play for their respective schools.
At the time, Gilbert was a very well-sought after commodity: His 6’11, 210-pound frame went blow-for-blow up against some of the top recruits in the country, holding his own against the likes of Andre Drummond, who is now a center in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons. Gilbert was hearing from big schools like Ohio State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Pittsburgh, as well as from other smaller schools.
One of those smaller schools was a Sydney Johnson-coached Princeton team. Johnson contacted Gilbert letting him know he was interested in having him play for the Ivy League school, but Gilbert decided he was looking for an opportunity with a bigger school, leading him to choose Pittsburgh.
One year later, Coach Johnson was at Fairfield, looking for his first recruiting class with the Stags. Among the first players he brought to Fairfield was Marcus Gilbert, the younger brother of Malcolm.
In an interview with William Paxton of the Connecticut Post, Johnson explained the recruiting process for getting Marcus, his first recruit of the 2016 class.
“I knew as soon as I got the job here (at Fairfield), he was locked in,” Johnson told Paxton.
Six months later, Johnson achieved what he had sought a year and a half earlier, the chance to coach Malcolm.
Malcolm’s freshman season with the Big East team was less than what he had expected, a downside of playing for a big team such as Pitt.
In his singular season with Panthers, Malcolm played in only 19 games for 93 minutes in total. Heading into his sophomore season, the coaches at Pitt made the decision to have Malcolm red shirt, meaning he would not have seen any time the whole season.
With this in mind, Malcolm decided that it was more prudent for him to take his talents to Fairfield.
While Johnson has to wait until next December to see Malcolm in action for the Stags, he has had ample time to work with the younger Gilbert brother in his freshman season.
To date, Marcus has had a wildly successful first year with the Stags. He has 140 points on the year and is averaging 20 minutes of playing time per game. Within those games, Marcus was given the starting nod 19 out of 26 times.
They dynamic of having the brothers together on the court will be a bonus for the Stags when it can finally come to fruition. It will also be beneficial to Malcolm and Marcus both on and off the court.
It has already added an interesting dynamic to their relationship, as younger sibling Marcus has spent more time at Fairfield and with the team than older brother Malcolm.
“He’s a rookie. It’s kind of different, but I’m older now, so I can take responsibility for myself. Sometimes, you have to be the bigger brother when you are the younger one,” Marcus told Paxton.
Malcolm echoed the sentiment to Paxton, saying, “…We are like twins. We know each other’s inside jokes, we think alike and we are real close. We’re like twins. So for the roles to change, it’s not that significant because we both look up to each other. We both look to each other for insight and we both listen to each other.”
At times, especially in their game against Iona, the team appeared to be communicating poorly or on different wavelengths for certain plays. The addition of a brotherly dynamic can help to lessen these concerns, as the Gilberts have been playing together (and against each other) for their whole lives.
Fast forward to December 2013 when Malcolm will be eligible to play for the Stags alongside his brother. What this will mean for the Stags is unknown to players, coaches, and Stags fans alike.
What they can hope for however is for the bond the brothers share to go beyond the two and affect the team as a whole.