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April 12, 2012

Pitt’s 2012 basketball signing class is probably complete — with all the requisite officialness of signed documents. Trey Zeigler sent in his official transfer paperwork, and Chris Jones sent in his Letter of Intent.

The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball program signed Chris Jones (Teaneck, N.J./Teaneck H.S.) to a National Letter of Intent, head coach Jamie Dixon announced on Wednesday. In addition, Dixon also stated that Trey Zeigler (Mount Pleasant, Mich./Central Michigan) has submitted the necessary scholarship paperwork in order to enroll at Pitt. The NCAA Division I spring men’s basketball signing period began on Wednesday, April 11.

Jones and Zeigler join Steven Adams (Rotorua, New Zealand/Notre Dame Prep, Mass.) and James Robinson (Mitchellville, Md./DeMatha Catholic H.S.) as Pitt’s four-member 2012 class. Not including Jones and Zeigler, Pitt’s 2012 class is considered a consensus top-15 nationally ranked unit. Pitt is ranked No. 13 by ESPNU, No. 10 by Rivals.com, No. 15 by Scout.com and No. 13 by CBSSports.com. Adams (top-10) and Robinson are both consensus top-50 ranked recruits.

I haven’t checked how the rankings look, but the only reason Pitt might move in the rankings will be due to other late signees and how they affect the movement. Transfers do not count for recruiting rankings, so Zeigler will not have an impact on the rankings.

The Post-Gazette’s Pitt basketball beat writer, Ray Fittipaldo was able to speak briefly to Coach Dixon last night. Asked about any more additions to the class:

When asked if he could still add another player to the recruiting class, Dixon said: “At this point, we’re done.”

So what does that mean regarding Savon Goodman? Well, most recruiting reports have started indicating that Goodman is very likely headed to prep school because of his grades. Presumably, Pitt is still recruiting him for 2013.

Then there was the report yesterday evening that Coach Dixon was in Atlanta today — on the late signing day – speaking with LSU AD Joe Alleva about the now vacant LSU job. Coach Dixon did his usual “I don’t talk about other jobs” thing, but it’s worth noting that Dixon spoke to Fittipaldo from the Consol Center. It’s worth noting that the reporter that said that, later made a correction to the story.

A previous report on Nola.com that Alleva met with University of Pittsburgh Coach Jamie Dixon was inaccurate.

Pitt officials also denied the report saying that Dixon was at his offices in the Pete all day.

Let’s be realistic. LSU and Dixon make no sense. TCU couldn’t get him to come to Texas or anywhere to meet to talk the job. But Dixon would make a trip to Atlanta just to listen?

Is it conceivable that LSU could make Dixon some sort of Godfather offer to lure him? Yes, it is an SEC school with plenty of money and a big commitment to athletics. But, Dixon would be so out of place in that region.

More practically, the LSU job is not very good. It is in need of total rebuilding, and at least a 3-year process. Not an appealing notion.

Then there is this recruiting class. Forget the quality. Look at the ties. Dixon is bringing in Steven Adams — whose mentor in New Zealand is an old friend of Dixon. And now having Trey Zeigler sign transfer paperwork? Zeigler? The son of another friend and former coaching colleague? There is no way he would let him sign that paperwork at the beginning of the late signing period – and get the appeal submitted for a waiver to play right away — if he was even thinking about another job





I’m interested to see what new assistant coaches are signed.

Someone obviously wasn’t doing their job this year.

Comment by PittofDreams 04.12.12 @ 7:35 am

Pitt of dreams…. Your point about asst coaches is well taken… i dont know that “someone wasnt doing their job” as much as Dixon has lost alot of talented coaches over the last few years. Just like some of the players this year, maybe one or a few of the assts just werent the right fit. Where i see the most glaring hole is frontcourt development. I trust that if we fans see this coach dixon can see this as well.

Comment by Big Bill 04.12.12 @ 8:33 am

I would like new assistant also but dont think it will happen
it sucks that zeigler wont count on rankings of the class.
if goodmen goes prep i think we have a shot of geting him next year.

Comment by Frankcan 04.12.12 @ 8:41 am

what about sam cassell jr?? he had three choicces and pitt was in the mix????

Comment by neal 04.12.12 @ 9:27 am

I don’t thinly Pitt was ever that serious about Cassell

Comment by Chas 04.12.12 @ 9:33 am

Class rankings aren’t that important. Pitt could have signed someone over Ziegler to make the ranking better, but I’d rather have Ziegler who has proven he can play in college and will start from day 1.

I’m more likely to blame injuries and Birch leaving than assistants due to Pitt being down this past year.

Comment by Wardapalooza 04.12.12 @ 10:05 am

Why not ask Slice to return? One of the better assistants to bump up to HC during Dixon’s tenure, an established recruiter with deep NYC ties, and a proven track record for developing big men?

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 04.12.12 @ 10:16 am

Ward,

Not blaming the coaches for this year. I think it was a series of things, asst coaching being 1 of them.

My argument is mostly based on player improvement of 2 interior guys, Dante and Nasir. Nasir was working with a shorthanded toolbox to begin with, just based on size alone, but I just didn’t see anything this year that he had become better at over his 4 years. FT Shooting, no. Ballhandling, no. Shooting, no. Im not saying that’s entirely on the coaching staff though. Ditto for Dante…

And I dont really think they are bad coaches. I just think we lost some REALLY, REALLY good assts, and its not always easy to do so when losing guys in bulk like they have over the last 5 years. Perhaps another year under their belts will help. I really do have complete faith that Dixon is one of the very best in the business and will get the ship turned around.

Comment by Big Bill 04.12.12 @ 10:25 am

Coaching can only do so much. I think it is really simple – we had a bad year primarily because the other teams had better players than us. It looks like this recruiting class will provide some of those better players. At least I hope so.

Comment by Rayhpgh 04.12.12 @ 11:02 am

Any truth to the rumor that Jamie Dixon may have been in Idaho talking with Boise State about the open JV Women’s team coaching vacancy? A witness may have seen him buying a Snickers at a local 7-11, according to a reliable local zine.

Comment by maz. 04.12.12 @ 11:10 am

Can I ask a basic question? What role do the assistant coaches play? Are they there for player development, recruiting, game strategy, or something else?

Comment by Lou 04.12.12 @ 12:38 pm

Nerlens Noel to UK, Shabazz to UCLA. Just glad he’s not in the BE sinc Cuse was on his list.

Pitts got the highest ranked recruit in the class and arguable the best overall class in the BE.

Comment by PantherP 04.12.12 @ 1:34 pm

different coaches are there for different functions. Some of them are defensive specialists, others are knwonto develop big men. Calipari allegedly hired Antigua primarily because of hus NYC ties

Comment by wbb 04.12.12 @ 1:38 pm

Andy Katz’s top 25 for next season: link to m.espn.go.com
We ended up in the “don’t sleep on us” group at the end.

Comment by OrlandoAlum 04.12.12 @ 1:54 pm

Breaking news- Dixon was spotted by a rerited farmer in North Colossus Township, IL talking to the local mayor about a part time position as head of community recreational activites. The mayor refused to discuss the matter, saying only “I’m not even sure the position has been approved by council because of budget this and that, so i’m not puttin’ all them eggs in one darn basket.”

Comment by Get the Glory 04.12.12 @ 3:05 pm

I for one am SO glad that we didn’t get put in the top-25. I’m a die hard Pitt fan, but we are routinely overrated in the pre-season which inevitably leads to a ‘let-down’ year. I’m glad that our guys will have to earn their stripes for once. There was no reason that Pitt was pre-season #9 last season. That was an absolute joke, and that joke manifested itself on the court night after night. Let the kids work for it. Who knows…maybe this will fire them up a bit.

Comment by MikePITT 04.12.12 @ 3:09 pm

interesting that according to ESPN, Providence had the best recruiting class in the bE … 6th nationally.

I agree that you take these rankings with a grain of salt but No. 6 is pretty impressive for the Friars

Comment by wbb 04.12.12 @ 3:38 pm

If Zeigler is eligible next season, Pitt will be back in the top 25 NO QUESTION.

He is proven, mature and fills an immediate need. He turns the weakest position in the starting line up to potentially the strongest, especially on defense where Pitt MUST improve next season.

And not only does he upgrade the weakest spot, but he allows Patterson and Moore to BOTH start, one of them (Patterson) will play the four and subsequently upgrade that position.

5) Adams – even if he is 80% of expectations will be a huge upgrade, Gilbert will be a good back up
4) Patterson – can guard most fours, Zanna can play against bigger post fours
3) Moore – made big strides, D. Johnson off the bench for shooting
2) Zeigler – All Big East potential, great rebounder, J. Johnson comes in for shooting and end of game free throws.
1) Woodall – will be weakest starter, best case Robinson gets major minutes by year end.

Not sure where Dante and Cam fit in. If they had Birch’s handlers, they’d transfer.

Deep and versatile. Much improved on defense. More athletic. More balanced. On paper, that team looks like a big east championship contender.

Comment by boubacar aw 04.12.12 @ 3:53 pm

Sorry but Patterson can’t handle the 4. He is too small and doesnt use what little he has like Nas could. He’s a wing. When Patterson played some 4 this year he couldn’t get a rebound off of a bigger defender to save his life. Zanna is ready

Comment by Tony C 04.12.12 @ 5:43 pm

I honestly think that when Zanna needs rest at the 4 we could put Dante/Gilbert at the 5 and let Adams handle the 4. He is that talented

Comment by Tony C 04.12.12 @ 5:47 pm

I don’t get why everyone is so high on Gilbert. Seemed totally lost on offense, and very weak. I certainly saw why he was being red-shirted before Birch left, and in hindsight, we should kept the redshirt in tact. Unless he does some major strength training over the summer, I don’t see him providing much yet. Definitely don’t see him taking much time away from Sleepy.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 04.12.12 @ 7:07 pm

Marcus, he didnt look weak at all. And as lost as he looked he did just as well as zanna and taylor.

Patterson is capable of playing limited minutes as the backup 4. Hes just as big as NAS and is a very good rebounder. Zanna will start at the 4, though. No way does adams play at the 4.

Comment by Pk 04.12.12 @ 7:34 pm

PK, maybe your seats are closer than mine, but it sure looked like he had some trouble protecting the ball, had it taken from him several times. And from what I’ve seen of Adams, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get some time at the 4 against certain matchups.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 04.12.12 @ 7:56 pm

I dont think Zeigler means Moore and Patterson both start. Neither of them are ideal PFs. Zanna is the closest thing we have to a PF and likely will get the start there.
PG- Woodall; SG – Zeigler or Patterson; SF – Moore or Patterson; PF — Zanna; C – Adams.

Thats still a good line-up with good subs for each position.

Let’s not forget Zeigler has or may have some warts. Us fans are really hungry for some upgraded talent, and Zeigler is just that, but he doesnt really bring better outside shooting and causes a minutes problem among him, Moore, Patterson, not to mention D Johnson, J Johnson and Cam Wright. The latter 3 will likely and should have limited minutes, but that’s still a lot of guys to juggle at basically 2.5 positions (that is SG + SF + sort of the PF which is really Zanna’s to lose and even then Dante may getsome minutes there).

Will be interesting to see how Dixon juggles the minutes. Non-conf schedule we’ll see a bunch of different looks.

Comment by PantherP 04.12.12 @ 7:56 pm

I agree with PantherP — I see Patterson starting and Moore a sixth-man at the 2 or 3. Zanna will start at the 4. Expect to see Patterson play the 4 when he, Ziegler, and Moore are all out there together (a lineup I like, it protects Patterson’s defensive slowness). Taylor will back up Adams at the 5, Gilbert getting limited minutes.

Comment by JW 04.12.12 @ 8:15 pm

marcus, what i saw from gilbert was a great shot blocker/changer, a decent rebounder, and a future role player offensively. in time hes going to be a 6 point 7 rebound 3/4 blocks per game type of player. he needs to get stronger, sure, but he didnt look weak and i dont recall a single instance where someone took the ball from him. i do remember him making many nice passes and good defensive plays, though. and its not that adams CANT play the 4, which really isnt his strongsuit, but jamie dixon simply wont play him there

Comment by pk 04.12.12 @ 8:21 pm

Gilbert had trouble corralling the ball long enough for someone to take it from him. Not especially coordinated. He is very very raw fundamentally. But you can’t teach 7 feet and long arms.

Comment by JW 04.12.12 @ 8:55 pm

Agree with PantherP as well — Zeigler is a help but he does cause minutes problems and Patterson and Moore won’t both start.

Zanna, unfortunately, will have to start.

Comment by hugh green 04.13.12 @ 8:30 am

Why is everyone high on Gilbert? That’s an easy one, HE’S 7 FEET TALL and reasonably athletic.

Of the MANY reasons why this Pitt team underachieved this year, one of the biggest was a lack of defensive presence in the paint. Gilbert solves that problem immediately.

Next year with Adams, Gilbert represents less of a change than would Taylor. Gilbert’s skill set is closer to Adams’. The “system” wouldn’t have to change much when Gilbert comes in.

For the record, Gilbert’s redshirt was burned (needlessly) before Birch left. Once he played a single minute he was not eligible for a redshirt for convenience. He still could have been eligible for a medical redshirt if he participated in fewer than 20% of the games AND suffered a season ending injury.

The case for starting Patterson at the four:

Dixon has said, repeatedly, that he starts the best five without strict regard for position. Zanna is the ONLY true 4 on the roster (don’t even go there with Taylor, he’s not played a single MINUTE of 4 since he’s been here FOR A REASON – he can’t). Zanna will play a ton (probably even the majority) of minutes at 4. But Zanna can’t play all the minutes. Patterson is going to have to play there some.

They did go with that small lineup a lot at the end of the year. And they had some success with it.

With the added rebounding provided by Adams and Zeigler, even with Patterson (who isn’t a bad rebounder) at the 4, Pitt will still be a very good rebounding team.

Patterson IS NOT good defensively. He won’t be any worse guarding the 4 than he would be guarding the 3. He might even do less damage guarding the 4, his lack of quickness will be less of an issue.

The coaching staff thinks Zanna lacks toughness. I don’t think the coaches will reward him with the starting position when they have a legit alternative in Patterson and Moore at the 3. I think the coaches like the 4/3 combo of Patterson/Moore more than Zanna/Patterson.

I am a huge Zanna fan and expect he should thrive next year due in part to Adams’ presence in the middle. And I would probably start Zanna, but don’t think Jamie agrees. We’ll see.

Comment by boubacar aw 04.13.12 @ 8:48 am

Adams may be able to (eventually) play the 4 on offense, but there is no way he could defend against a big east power forward on the perimeter.

In the game played at Ambridge, Adams guarded a quick 6’8″ kid who BLEW BY HIM like he was standing still.

Comment by boubacar aw 04.13.12 @ 9:48 am

I think Patterson could handle the 4, particularly if you’ve got Adams down low. Despite some of his athletic limitations, Patterson really came on in the last part of the season and was probably the strongest player on the team. High basketball IQ, solid shooter, and by the end of the season was looking like a team leader. Patterson at 4 and Moore at 3 makes perfect sense to me.

Comment by Carmen 04.13.12 @ 10:04 am

Adams is the best center coming into college basketball I cannot understand talk about him at the 4. He is legitimate 7′. Gilbert is a long way from having the offensive skills of Adams as are every other center coming in this year. Adams is a legitimate NBA center and if he continues to progress he could be the #1 player in NBA draft as projected. (He destroyed Nolens head to head).

I still have not completely dismissed Taylor at the 4. If he loses 15-20 pounds he is a much better rebounder and defender than Zanna and possibly could regain some of his offensive skills facing the basket he had in high school.

Comment by drw 04.13.12 @ 11:02 am

I think you guys are too quick to say that Patterson and Moore won’t start. Dixon definitely wants to get them both on the court. Patterson might not be able to guard a 4, but how many 4s are going to be able to step out on Patterson and guard him. Make the opponent adjust to your smaller lineup.

Gilbert will be solid off the bench next year. Remember he had nagging injuries all year. A whole year of conditioning should do him wonders.

Also no one except for drw mentioned Dante Taylor. You do realize Taylor is going to get 20 minutes a game at some position. It will be interesting to see how Dixon juggles everything next year.

Comment by Wardapalooza 04.13.12 @ 12:25 pm

Taylor and Zanna split time at the same position, both played about 19 minutes a game.

Zanna averaged 5.5 rebounds a game. Taylor averaged 4.9. Both have similar size and strength (neither good).

Taylor blocked a few (10) more shots, but neither is a shot blocker, both had fewer than one block a game.

Niether demonstrated any kind of post moves. Both routinely got their shots in the paint pinned against the glass.

Zanna is a better shooter and is more polished offensively. Zanna handles the ball better and had fewer turnovers.

Bottom line, neither are good centers.

In the few opportunities that Zanna had to play 4 he did ok.

Taylor does not play in space (offense or defense) well enough to play the 4. Whether he losses 5, 10 or 15lbs, he just doesn’t move his feet very well. Plus he has never played the position while at Pitt.

Taylor is fighting with Gilbert for back up minutes at center. I expect Gilbert to win that battle.

If Taylor starts next season, Pitt will be going for a repeat title in the CBI.

Comment by boubacar aw 04.13.12 @ 12:29 pm

Ward – I fear you might be right, BUT If Taylor is getting 20 minutes/game, Pitt’s in trouble.

Comment by boubacar aw 04.13.12 @ 12:37 pm

Boubacar – I hear what your saying. But we all know how Dixon plays Seniors. Especially a Senior like Taylor who has spent 3 years in the program and has continually worked hard.

Comment by Wardapalooza 04.13.12 @ 2:35 pm

Adams is actually not 7 feet. He’s 6’10 and projects as a 4 at the next level ala Serge Ibaka

Comment by Tony C 04.13.12 @ 3:13 pm

Comment by Tony C 04.13.12 @ 3:16 pm

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