I’m sorry to see him go. I don’t agree with it, not simply because he is leaving Pitt, but because a mid-season transfer is not a particularly smart decision for any kid. He can transfer, but he will still have to sit a full year. He won’t be eligible until the winter semester of 2012-13. Still he seems gone, this time for real.
“I’m leaving,” Birch told CBSSports.com on Friday night. “I’m headed to Toronto now. I enjoyed my time at Pittsburgh, I love Coach (Jamie) Dixon, had no problems with the staff and the players. It just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
Birch informed CBSSports.com that he does not have a new list and has not decided on his next destination.
Earlier today, P-G’s Pitt basketball beat writer Ray Fittipaldo posted that there are whispers (spin?) that Khem Birch is not particularly emotionally mature and that he might have “bad” influences in his ear. My natural impulse is that this is a bit of spin from the Pitt side. The one factor that mitigates is that Birch opted to start college a year earlier than he needed to — and most expected/thought he should.
Technically there still appears to be a crack.
“Khem has decided to leave the team for personal reasons,” Dixon said in a statement. “We thank Khem for his contribution to our program over the last semester and wish him great success in the future.”
Birch boarded a bus for Buffalo and was expecting to re-enter Canada before making a decision on his future.
Dixon has not returned a call to me, but I was told by two other sources that they would not be surprised if Birch was talked out of his decision once he returned home. Dixon’s statement didn’t seem like he left the door open, but I was told he could be back.
In talking to several people throughout the day the picture was painted for me that Birch simply was ill-equipped to handle the pressure of playing Division I basketball at this time.
I don’t know what the truth is right now. Tweets and inferences from yesterday implied a lot of immaturity and frustration from Birch about playing time and position.
Under the rules of the Big East and NCAA he cannot transfer to another Big East school. Pitt has to grant his release so he is not exactly free to go where he wants. Claims that he hasn’t made up his mind about where he is going are probably a bit of bull. As a mid-season transfer he has to decide quickly to get released and enrolled.
Obviously there is going to be more on this matter. So, I’m not going to extend my speculation any further. Nor am I going to kill the kid at this point.