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August 1, 2006

Diversification

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Dixon,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:29 am

An article today about Coach Jamie Dixon hiring Dave Cox as Director of Basketball Operations and what it means for Pitt’s recruiting strategy.

When Pitt men’s coach Jamie Dixon set out to hire his new director of basketball operations, he wanted to get someone with a strong administrative background first and foremost. But high on his list of desires was to get a well-connected AAU coach who could help make recruiting inroads into the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

In David Cox, Dixon found what he was looking for. As the director of basketball operations at Pitt, Cox is allowed to recruit only in Pittsburgh and nearby communities, but that hasn’t stopped this former AAU coach from Washington from making his presence felt in the recruiting wars for the Panthers.

That doesn’t mean Pitt will abandon New York, but it does signal a significant change for the program. Pitt rebuilt the program around players such as Carl Krauser, Chris Taft and current players Ronald Ramon and Keith Benjamin. Half of the players on this year’s roster hail from the New York/New Jersey area.

Now it seems Dixon is going in another direction — south on Interstate 95.

Of course, that somewhat ignores the hiring of Mike Rice that was also a bit of diversifying into areas Pitt hadn’t been recruiting as hard — Philly and the rest of Jersey beyond the NYC Metro. This is just logical and smart. There’s a risk in relying on one geographic area too strongly for recruits. Even when it is somewhere as talent-rich as NYC.

Beasley and Wright represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the deep pool of players in the Washington area. The Baltimore-Washington area is producing more and more of the top players in the country every year. For the time being, it has surpassed New York as the hotbed for recruiting. Usually the first stop on recruiting trips for coaches, New York has fallen on hard times. It does not have one player among the top 70 in the ’07 class. Contrast that to the Washington-Baltimore area, which currently has five of the top 25 players in the class.

“Areas go through cycles, some more than others,” Dixon said. “There definitely are a lot of players to come out of the D.C. area, especially the last few years.”

Additionally, it can not be ignored how much tougher it will be to recruit in the NYC area. Pitt didn’t just lose Associate Head Coach Barry Rohrssen. They will now have to compete against him in the area. Rutgers and Seton Hall made serious upgrades with their recruiting in the area with the head coach hirings of Dave Hill and Bobby Gonzalez, respectively. Rick Pitino still recruits the area hard. St. John’s continues to rebuild. Then there are always Syracuse and UConn.

Pitt still has a strong presence with Orlando Antigua and his relation to the city, players and coaches there, but it is better to really start expanding the recruiting geographically as Pitt has raised its profile.

To that end, Pitt is interested in a kid who will be attending Hargrave Military Academy after initially signing a LOI with Temple.

We said it at the Peach Jam and we’ll it again. Mike Scott will be a name that everyone is talking about once the prep school season gets rolling. Heck, his name might be a popular one before that. The class of 2006 Temple signee is headed to Hargrave Military in the fall and the way he has played in July has made him a guy that the high-majors want to have on their team.

Scott said he is hearing from Pitt, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, St. Joe’s, Maryland and Virginia Tech and waiting for his release from the Atlantic 10 program.

Scott is from Virginia. I’m not sure if Rice or Cox has any connection to him (whether Rice was aware or recruited him at all while at St. Joe’s).

I’m just glad Pitt is looking to other places for recruiting.





Love the new look. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Lee in State College 08.01.06 @ 8:43 am

As for the “change in direction”, I can’t say I’m too upset about that. Can’t put all of yer eggs in one basket, y’know?

Comment by Shawn 08.01.06 @ 11:45 am

[…] Then look on the rosters for the number of players from the metro DC/MD/VA area. Metro NYC/NJ is in a down cycle with talent and depending too much on one area is tough. So, while that whole NY-pipeline thing makes a nice story, it’s not particularly smart for the long-term. That’s why I was so happy last summer when it was clear that Pitt was spreading out in areas for recruiting. […]


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