April 2, 2012

Yet More Guards

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 4:21 pm

Sure Pitt had a bunch of high school juniors visiting spring football practice this past weekend, but the information on them is stuck behind paywalls. On the other hand, Pitt will have a couple potential late editions to the basketball recruiting class visiting.

JUCO guard Trency Jackson is visiting Pitt this weekend. Kaza Keane plans on visiting Oakland in two weeks

Both are guards, and it is somewhat curious that Pitt would be looking to get yet more guard help.Wwhile there is technically no available scholarship at the moment, it is presumed that Isiah Epps will not be part of the team going forward. Still the two possibilities are quite opposite in terms of immediate impact.


Trency Jackson is a name we’ve heard for a while. He would be some immediate help for the team. As a JUCO, scouting reports are a little iffy. Here’s a pretty good breakdown on Jackson from a Purdue perspective (apologies for the fact that this site has an auto-play video on it. Very annoying).

Keane, however is a puzzler. He’s a point guard. He was originally going to be a 2013 recruit, but he reclassified to 2012. (He’s also Canadian and his first name starts with K. Coincidences, and not all any meaning to add to that.)

Prior to reclassifying, he was starting to draw attention and interest (Insider subs)

I have been receiving some very good reports about Kaza Keane, who could be the top Canadian point guard in the 2013 class.

The Toronto native who attends the Christian Faith Center Academy in Creedmoor, N.C., is 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He has excellent court vision, 3-point range and plays with good energy and urgency on both ends of the floor. Keane is also a good defender who puts good pressure on the ballhandler and is alert in passing lanes. He has good but not elite speed and quickness, but seems to have a great feel for the game.

“What I do best is make plays; I do whatever my team needs. I have good court vision and can score, when needed. I need to add strength and be more vocal,” Keane said.

As far as recruitng goes, Keane says he has a combination of offers and strong interest from many high-level programs like Fresno State, Rhode Island, George Mason, Arizona, Marquette, Georgetown, Florida State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

“I am looking for a school that is a good fit. I want a good relationship with the coach that can help me improve at my position. I have an interest in studying law in hopes of being a sports agent someday. I have about a 3.2 GPA and will take the SAT in March,” he said.

Then he reclassified in February, and Pitt got involved.

“There was a lot of thinking that went into me going to college this up coming year, but the main ones were how I already have the right grades and right academic habits to go forth and go to college,” Kajami-Keane told NBE over the weekend, “so there wasn’t really a need academically to stay in high school. Also another reason was because a lot of schools that were recruiting me were really interested in getting in a [Class of] 2012 point guard, so I felt that I would jump at the situation when it arose.”

Here’s where his plan may have backfired a bit. He still hasn’t gotten that many offers. There was interest, and there is still a chance for offers to follow in the next few weeks. But he reclassified in Februrary, and outside of Pitt he does not appear to have any actual offers.

I would have assumed they would have pulled his offer after guard Chris Jones committed. Like Jones, Keane would definitely be a candidate for redshirting. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have two guards recruited that would be redshirt candidates. Not to mention James Robinson in the recruiting class. Especially after taking two guards in Johnson and Johnson last year. Though, Durand Johnson is now listed as a forward only on the roster, so he seems to have been moved to small forward full-time.

As it stands, here are the guards that are set to be on the roster for 2012: Robinson, Jones, J. Johnson, Wright and Woodall.

The one plus for Keane is that he is a point guard. The thinking might be that Pitt needs to make sure there is at least a back-up point guard ready behind Robinson for 2013. Heck, given the injury to Woodall this season, maybe even 2012.

Not only will Pitt need a backup PG, Dixon may be transitioning his roster toward the impending departure for the ACC. The current group of guards isn’t really that inspiring to boot.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.02.12 @ 5:00 pm

bring him on board we need all the good ones we can get we dont have good ones now so go get 2 more
dont want a second year like this one. it is all tinos fult. ask EMel

Comment by Frankcan 04.02.12 @ 5:36 pm

Tossing, I’m somewhat concerned as well. It’s not like there a little drop-off this year, they fell off a cliff. I think Jamie Dixon is good coach and all, but it’s not going be that easy put the genie back in the bottle. Hopefully he can get things back up to speed quickly, but I think could easily take more than a year.

Comment by Justinian 04.02.12 @ 5:38 pm

I think they’ll be on point next year. No Gibbs attitude and a true PF in the lineup alone will help the defense. It’s Jamie’s job to get the team to buy into it now. If they do, with some guard depth and Adams added to the front court the future is very bright. Pitt really wasn’t as far off as people think this year – TO’s more than D killed this years team. I, for one, won’t complain about adding more ball handlers (i.e. guards) to the team – especially if they have size and can move between 2 & 3.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.02.12 @ 7:03 pm

I dont mind getting trency jackson, hes a very good guard, but id rather pitt get a pf. The only one theyre after is jc orlando sanchez who is, from what ive read, in the mold of a khem birck. Lanky, athletic shot blocker, and a good rebounder.

Comment by Pk 04.02.12 @ 7:51 pm

Our guards stink right now so keep em comin. Wright and Epps should be let go and John Johnson is nothing more than a shooter. Woodall and Robinson are our only starter-capable guards. Keep the new guys comin.

Comment by Tony C 04.02.12 @ 7:57 pm

We need tough guards for perimeter d…

Comment by 63Team 04.02.12 @ 8:32 pm

i still dont get the hate on wright. hes exactly what brad wannamaker was at this point. hes a tough defender, rebounds, plays hard, and is athletic. his decision making and scoring ability are questionablen but hes got some upside

Comment by pk 04.02.12 @ 8:47 pm

If anyone read Fitipaldi, then the between the lines story is that Pitt is weak up the middle…PG and Center.
Hard to argue Ray’s point. He politely but emphatically called Taylor a bust/sub/sissy.
For Pitt to really achieve next year, the column suggests it was turnovers. One of the other posts says the same thing.
It us a helluva lot easier to defend 5 on 5 than to stop a 2 on 1 or 3 on 2.

Comment by SFPitt 04.02.12 @ 9:14 pm

Who is the guy pretending to be FRANKCAN?
You are a very bad imitation.

As far as the guards, yes you need 2 good PG’s.
We found that out this year, didn’t we?
I’m assuming Dixon won’t get caught again in a pridicament that was of his making.

Comment by EMel 04.02.12 @ 11:09 pm

As I’ve posted before we need a massive infusion of talent on this team. As in 5 new bodies for next year. We have 3 so far. That would mean, we need 2 more live ones. One should be another PG and the other should be a scoring PF and rebounder. This ain’t(emphasis) rocket science.

Comment by EMel 04.02.12 @ 11:14 pm

I see Woodall/Robinson, potentially Jackson, Patterson, Moore, Zanna/Taylor, Adams as a solid core. Not sure how I feel about Johnson. philly court presence and 3pt range but, I mean how could the kid intentionally foul there! ha! Wright I think will be better than most people think, but hey what is that sayin’–stopper like potential tho. Bring in the kid Keane I say as 63Team says, perimeter d…

Comment by Gordo 04.03.12 @ 1:45 am

How could I forget Gilbert!!! Dunk Face Blocked Shot

Comment by Gordo 04.03.12 @ 1:48 am

Emel is correct. This aint rocket science. What Pitt needs is self evident. Turnovers, bad defense and lack of an inside game doomed Pitt this year. An overhaul is needed for ACC play. The pieces are starting to come together but this isn’t fixed in one year. Pitt will be fine. Jaime knows what he needs and will find it.

Comment by TX Panther 04.03.12 @ 7:02 am

Congradulations Cal, former “Pitt” man. That could have been us.

Comment by alcofan 04.03.12 @ 7:35 am

Comparing Wright to Wannamaker, even when he was a freshman, is a tremendous insult. Wannamaker showed flashes of offensive potential, whereas Wright has shown virtually none.

Comment by JW 04.03.12 @ 7:40 am

I hope Dixon keeps recruiting. The talent level is just not good enough for the Big East and ACC. Wright, Taylor, Epps and Johnson etc.

Comment by Wayne 04.03.12 @ 8:09 am

It hasn’t been that long gone ago to remember Wannamaker getting bad press by the posters on this site in his 1st 2 years .. mainly because (much like our current PG), he seemed to push the action and was a turnover machine

Comment by wbb 04.03.12 @ 9:13 am

Adams needs to be the real deal & Patterson needs to be the 2 guard that the offense runs through until Adams gains experience. Then run offense thru the post. Approx 2wks ago i heard a rumor that a player might not be back next year & that JD would be replacing position w/a PF? I guess replacing a guard for a guard makes sense especially if the talent is an upgrade. Adams,Zanna & Moore could be a nice/big front line next year? Hail to PITT

Comment by DC33 04.03.12 @ 9:21 am

I won’t pretend to know what type of players Jackson or Keane are. For that, I’ll trust Coach Dixon. Initially, I was surprised to see Pitt pursuing another guard. However, the more I think about it (and it has been posted by many on this blog), Pitt needs an influx of talent going forward. Perhaps the player that Coach Dixon wants/needs at the PF position just isn’t there right now. Obviously, a lot could change but a few things that need to happen to get Pitt back on track are:
• Wright needs to become a lockdown defender and develop a little bit of offense to not be a liability
• J. Johnson has to improve his defense tremendously. If he is going to be a 2 guard at that size, he better play above-average defense and not turn the ball over
• JJ Moore has to take that “next step” most of us think he can take
• Zanna needs to get stronger
• Taylor is what he is. You can’t fault him for the stars placed next to his name after high school or the McDonald’s hype. As long as he works his ass off and can contribute 10-15 minutes off the bench that will help.

Right now I’m guesing the roster looks like this next year:
I guess, as of now, this is how the roster looks for next year.
PG – Woodall / Robinson
SG – Patterson / J. Johnson / Wright
SF – Moore / D. Johnson / Wright
PF – Zanna / Taylor / Patterson
C – Admans / Gilbert

Comment by JAM 05 Pitt 04.03.12 @ 10:03 am

Adams is the real deal. His potential exceeds any center coming into college (head to head against #1 center Nolens; Adams 23 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks; Nolens 12 points, 14 points, 12 rebounds 8 blocks).

PZ assessment of Adams questionable offensive game was based on his performance in the 2010 Addias games were it was noted he had a hitch in his jump shot. In the 2011 games analyst noted that the hitch was gaone after a year work with Dolf Schez (SP) former pro European player.

I also think Robinson is ready to start a PG he will offer better defense, shooting, court mastery, and team concept game than Woodall who plays for himself and would hurt the team tossing up 3’s when you have Adams for an inside out game.

It does not matter who plays 4 because either at 6’9″ will be tough match up’s with Adams drawing so much attention. Rebounds and garbage is all that is necessary. (Remember Graham at 4 when Ewing was at GT).

Question: Didn’t Patterson play alot at the 2 position. With Robinson’s ability to handle the ball unlike Woodal or Gibbs, Pattersons height, with improved defense, along with Robinson at 6’3″ should limit Pitt perenial problem of stopping the 3’s.

With a front line of Adam’s 7′ (gilbert sub 6’11”), Zanna and/or Taylor 6’9″ (finally no minatur strong forwards) and Moore 6’6″, at the 3, pressure can be put on the the opposing guards without concern for getting beat to the hoop.

You think Davis was an excellent off man shot blocker wait to you see Adams at 7′, 240 muscular build, hands bigger than Shak and more athletic than any true center I have seen since David Robinson.

Adams only problem is not his toughness or willingness to do the dirty work underneath it is unnecssary concerns of his own ability because until this year his not playing against highly publicized players in front of press and large crowds. The upside is that he has dominated each of them, but it is uncertain he understands this.

Comment by drw 04.03.12 @ 10:20 am

After watching the KY/KS game last night, I was thinking about how far Pitt has to go to compete.
In a nutshell, Pitt’s biggest problem all year was an inability to stop drives and scoring right down the middle of our defense, especially in the post area. Watched Davis last night just take over the game and KY used his ability to block shots to overplay the KS guards and double team Robinson. Pitt had a bit of that in Khem Birch…Gilbert and Adams have to give Pitt that edge next year. We need depth at guard and forward and we need scorers but most of all we need a Anthony Davis like prescence inside. Adams cannot get here soon enough!

Comment by Dan 72 04.03.12 @ 10:57 am

Interesting note about Kentucky’s prospecst for repeating next year written in USA Today. It focuses on Nerlen Noels the center I mentioned in my above blog.

surprisingly, the two prep players generally ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country among college prospects are both strongly considering Kentucky. They are Nerlens Noel, a 6-10 center from Everett, Mass., and Shabazz Muhammad, a 6-6 forward from Las Vegas.

Dominationing the #1 center in their matchup Adams and Noels reinforces the fact he is the real deal. There is a video with the Nolens Adams matchup. Even though the video is to hipe Noles as the #1 player in the country as mentioned in my blog above it is obvious in the video Adams is on another level compared to Nolens.

Also notice Adams offensive arsenal compared to Noels that once agin proves the the Pittsburgh sports writers know very little abou the sport they are reporting.

This is a common thread in on all areas of journalism. The editorializing by journalist who were communication majors in college (whateveer kind of academic disciple that represents) rather than authorities on the subject they report about.

Here is a note in the USA about Noles and Kentucky.

Comment by drw 04.03.12 @ 12:22 pm

Just a few random observations:

*Cameron Wright has the POTENTIAL and the tools to be a good a defender, but has yet to deliver on that potential. He is over-rated as a defender right now.

*Steven Adams is NOT in Anthony Davis’ class as a shot blocker. Having seen him play in Ambridge, I didn’t see that cat like quickness that Davis possess. Adams has a different skill set.

*Moore and Patterson will be among the top five players on the team next year. Dixon has said he’ll start the best five regardless of position. Both are really small forwards. They compliment each other on the offensive end of the court. Not sure how they can play together defensively. Neither can guard the two or four well enough for Pitt to return to the old “Pitt Defense”.

*I suggest we tone down the hyperbole around Adams. While he is the best pro prospect to come to Pitt since Charles Smith, he is FAR from a lock to dominate the big east next season. He will contribute next year, especially on defense/boards. But anything more should be considered a bonus. Let’s keep our expectations in check so that we’re not dissappointed. Lord knows we have had enough dissappointment for a while!

Comment by boubacar aw 04.03.12 @ 12:43 pm

I agree that he will help rebounding right away. But I would expect Adams to contribute more offensively initially than defensively. I see his offensive game as being ahead of his defensive game because of the style played overseas. I envision a Tyler Zeller type of offensive contributor but a steeper learning curve defensively–especially as regards staying out of foul trouble. We shall see.

Comment by pitt1972 04.03.12 @ 1:49 pm

Based purely on what I saw in Ambridge, admittedly too small a sample size, Adams can move his feet pretty well. He already plays the high ball screen better than Taylor. His height ALONE will help the defense. Zanna and Taylor were so bad defensively that he almost has to be an improvement.

I like the Zellers comparison. His offense isn’t where Tyler’s is yet. I think Adams compares favorably to Cody Zellers. Adams is a slightly bigger, much stronger and somewhat faster version.

Comment by boubacar aw 04.03.12 @ 2:32 pm

Sorry ….it is Zeller, not Zellers. My bad, I knew that….

Comment by boubacar aw 04.03.12 @ 2:34 pm

[…] is not the only one to whom Coach Dixon seems to still be talking. We have’t heard much from point guard Kaza Keane since Pitt got Zeigler. Unsurprisingly, neither has Keane from Pitt. Formerly a member of the 2013 […]

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