As the past couple days posts on basketball recruiting have shown, Pitt and Coach Dixon are being very active in trying to add at least one more player to the recruiting class, if not two. It makes sense. Pitt needs frontcourt help and the backcourt needs ball handlers immediately.
The frontcourt need is looming. Even assuming Talib Zanna becomes the answer at power forward for next year (he’ll be a redshirt junior), there is really no one behind him.
That is why Savon Goodman is being pursued hard by Pitt whether for this year or next. His talent is obvious, but the need is great. It is why Pitt had been looking at JUCO power forwards. Unfortunately, Orlando Sanchez appears to have eliminated Pitt from his list — favoring options where it is almost certain he could start right away.
In the backcourt the key is, are the players good ball-handlers (and of course defense)? One of the big problems for Pitt was turnovers. Blame Woodall, a bit, but when you look at the guards and wings on this squad, there’s a reason Woodall had the ball in his hands for so much of the time. Who else in the backcourt made you feel comfortable with the ball in his hands? Especially against teams that would exert defensive pressure. Johnson? Wright? No. The “best” options after Woodall were Patterson and Gibbs.
That’s why you actually saw Coach Dixon play Epps to spell Woodall when Gibbs was hurt in the final games. So even guard/forward, Chris Jones, from whom Pitt has a verbal has good ball-handling skills. As does transfer target Trey Zeigler.
That concern is also seen in a target for 2013 — when Pitt will definitely need to look for wing or small forwards to have ready after Patterson and Moore graduate in 2014. Preferably one who is sure-handed. A good argument could be made that part of the attraction Pitt has for Chris Jones is that he is a good ball handler, in addition to a solid defender.
One possible target for the 2013 class is Jamel Artis.
NBE saw Artis this season with Vermont Academy as well as last summer with Baltimore Elite. Our National Recruiting Analyst Brian Bosworth had this scouting report of Artis from the Hoop Group’s End of Summer Classic last AAU season:
Artis is a big guard standing at 6’6” and while he can play both guard positions his true calling seems to be at the point. He is a mismatch nightmare at that spot because he is just too big for defenders to handle. He has a good combination of power and speed which allow him to work his way into the lane repeatedly. Artis is a skilled passer both in transition and in half court ball screen sets. Probably his top skill right now is his toughness on the glass which he exhibits on both ends of the floor. Despite playing point guard for Baltimore Elite, Artis was unquestionably their best rebounder today. He loves contact inside and finished through it multiple times both on drives and offensive rebounds.
Artis is hoping to show scouts and college coaches this spring and summer those same traits when he hits the floor.
Right now, Artis only has an official offer from TCU, but is getting interest from Pitt, Arizona, Georgetown, UConn, Florida and Maryland. He has a 3-star listing at the moment (Insider subs). Mainly because his weakness is in consistent shooting from outside. But his size and potential make him very attractive.
Artis is a very good athlete that excels on the break by running the outside lane or by defensive rebounding and starting the break with a bust out dribble. His length allows him to be a good finisher when he slashes to the basket in the half court set. Artis is a good passer as well when he draws a second defender. He is also a good enough athlete to defend both wing positions as well.
Artis is a long athletic wing that can get to the rim with slashes in transition as well as in the half court set. He is a good ball handler, rebounder and multiple position defender as well. He must get stronger and extend his shooting range but has very good upside.
The fact that he is capable of slashing to the basket in the half-court is an extra plus. His performance on the AAU circuit this summer could raise his profile, but he definitely has the attention of a bunch of high-major programs.