Creighton’s Big East title hopes get a boost as Grant Gibbs receives sixth year of eligibility

When Creighton's season ended last March with an NCAA tournament loss to Duke, it appeared the three best players on the Bluejays might have just finished their college careers.

All-American Doug McDermott had an opportunity to enter the NBA draft, top big man Gregory Echenique was graduating and playmaking guard Grant Gibbs seemed to have exhausted his eligibility as well.

Echenique's departure will leave a hole in the middle for Creighton, but last year's 28-win Bluejays team will somehow otherwise return intact. Not only did McDermott opt to forgo NBA riches for another year and return for his senior season, Gibbs also received a waiver from the NCAA on Tuesday granting him a sixth year of eligibility.

Although Gibbs' five-year clock expired this year, his injury history enabled him to make a case to extend his college career. He did not play a minute in two of his five seasons, the first as a result of a shoulder injury as a true freshman at Gonzaga and the second when he sat out after transferring to Creighton in 2010.

Getting Gibbs back for a final season gives Creighton a real chance to win the new Big East in its inaugural season in the league. The playmaking guard thrived from long range and creating off the dribble this past season, averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 assists and shooting nearly 40 percent from behind the arc.

Pair Gibbs' ability to create for his teammates with an array of 3-point shooters and a versatile scorer in McDermott, and Creighton again figures to have one of the most prolific offenses in the country. That's enough for the Bluejays to hold their own against the likes of Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova next season, especially if someone emerges to help replace Echenique's interior muscle.

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