It didn’t take long for Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn to decide the path of his future.
Ranked as the No. 9 national recruit in the class of 2023 by 247sports.com after a standout freshman season at McCutcheon High School in Lafayette, Indiana, Gibbs-Lawhorn was looking for a prep school that could provide him with the national competition that could better prepare him for the college ranks.
After already visiting Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas and Florida’s Montverde Academy, his next trip was to the Real Salt Lake Academy. Upon landing in Utah, Gibbs-Lawhorn saw the mountains surrounding the Herriman facility and knew right away that he was home.
“When I first came here to visit it felt like a family,” Gibbs-Lawhorn said. “My number one goal, like every other basketball player, is to go to the NBA and I feel like RSL is the best place for it.”
While he thought he had kept his first instinct quiet, RSL Basketball Academy Head Coach David Evans could tell from their first meeting upon his arrival that he would likely land the dynamic scorer.
After picking him up from the airport, along with his parents, Evans saw a gleam in his eye. When his first question was if they could go fishing, Evans knew he was hooked.
“You belong here,” Evans laughed.
It was far from the first time that Gibbs-Lawhorn made a quick decision. From the first time he picked up a basketball – a Wilson Jet ball that he can describe in great detail – he knew that he wanted to play.
By second grade, he was waking up his father – himself a former professional basketball player in Mexico who runs a basketball program in Indiana – to work out in a local gym before school. His workouts included swimming, running, push-ups and sit-ups. And, of course, shooting.
By the time he played his first competitive game in the third grade, he was a standout among fifth-graders, making stellar plays look routine. His father, Ben Gibbs, knew there was something special in his young son.
It wasn’t just his skill, but his uncommon desire.
“I think what sets Dravyn apart is his work ethic. That’s what separates him from a lot of people in his class,” Gibbs said. “From second grade, he knew that was what he wanted to do and he fell in love with the process of being a good basketball player. He wants to do what he needs to do to be the best.”
He continued to progress throughout his youth and in his freshman year at McCutcheon, he garnered national attention, averaging 21 points, 3 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 48.5 percent shooting, including 46.3 percent from three. That’s when the decision came to head to a prep school to advance his prospects.
After connecting through former Jazz guard George Hill, Evans began recruiting Gibbs-Lawhorn to the RSL Academy for its inaugural season. A fractured foot would delay his arrival, but didn’t deter Evans.
While the scenery was appealing, that wasn’t the only thing that attracted Gibbs-Lawhorn and his family, who will join him in Utah.
“Everything is a family here. The coaching staff, the administration … everyone is on the same page and it really impressed me,” Gibbs said. “The education is important. Whatever he wants to study, they put him on track here. The ball is going to stop bouncing at some point and he wants to make sure he is set up with his academics to succeed.”
While RSL may be in its first season, that didn’t deter Gibbs-Lawhorn from wanting to make the move to Utah. To the contrary, the challenge was all the more appealing to him. The notion that RSL could soon be among the top teams in the country and that he could be a part of what helps the Griffins get there drew his attention.
“I want to play against Sunrise. I want to play against Montverde,” he told his father. “And I think we’ll beat them.”
A deft scorer with an ability to create his own shot, drive to the rim and create for his teammates, Gibbs-Lawhorn brings a new dynamic to a team that has already found success. A 15-3 record includes a win over a top-25 nationally ranked opponent in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last month.
Adding a player of his caliber will not only bring success in year one, but will help put the program on the map for years to come.
“He has a knack for scoring and getting to the rim. If we go a few possessions without scoring, he can get a bucket. And he can also really share the ball – he’s a willing passer,” Evans said. “He’s one of the best scorers I’ve seen, especially at a young age.”
Now in Utah, Gibbs-Lawhorn is preparing for his return to the court knowing he has a lot to offer.
He joins an academy that has produced professionals annually on the soccer side, including one player that has played in a World Cup – Carlos Salcedo with Mexico - and others currently vying for the U.S. Olympic roster.
That atmosphere has set the tone for the direction of the Basketball Academy and Evans’ success at Lone Peak and Wasatch Academy made for the perfect opportunity for Gibbs-Lawhorn to develop.
While known for its soccer prowess, he has his sights set on adding basketball to its reputation for growing young talent.
“You better get a good look at the basketball team too,” he smiled.