In football, coaches recruit for everything. There may be priorities at certain positions. A greater need, or such. But it is a much wider net. Basketball, though, is a different thing. Only 13 scholarships available in total. Only a few spots each year. You only have so much flexibility to take the “best available” player who wants to commit.
Pitt is expected to have two or three open scholarships for next year. Travon Woodall and Dante Taylor are seniors, and assuming Steven Adams to be a one-and-done is what Coach Jamie Dixon and the staff have to expect.
Given that Talib Zanna is a junior and the only other big man on the roster is Malcolm Gilbert (sophomore) it is expected that Pitt will be focused on recruiting for the front court.
ESPN.com agrees and has a rundown on who Pitt is prioritizing (along with the rest of the Big East).
We’re thinking the Panthers go big again and spend a considerable amount of time working over their primary targets.
Targets: ESPN 100 C BeeJay Anya (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha), ESPN 100 SF Rondae Jefferson (Chester, Pa./Chester), ESPN 100 PF Jermaine Lawrence (Springfield Gardens, N.Y./Pope John XXIII), C Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston/Tilton School), ESPN 100 PF Devin Williams (Cincinnati/Withrow), ESPN 100 PF Mike Young (Pittsburgh/St. Benedict’s)
It’s a great recruiting season if … 2012 ESPN 100 PG James Robinson (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) hands out a big assist and convinces Anya, a former high school teammate, to play alongside him again. Young is a Pittsburgh native and Jefferson is a Pittsburgh-type recruit, thanks to his junkyard dog mentality. If the Panthers could land all three, it would be an awesome class.
No question that Anya is the top target for Pitt — and a lot of other programs. He’s a top-20 recruit, and ESPN.com ranks him as the #1 center recruit nationally. Young is a position of need and with being from Pittsburgh, probably a priority.
Goodluck Okonoboh — aside from having an outstanding name — is a great example of how few good centers there are each year. He’s anywhere from 6-7 to 6-9. ESPN.com only ranks him at 3-stars, but has him as their #9 center. Rivals.com also says he’s 3-stars (and lists him at 6-7). Scout.com and 24/7 put him at 4-stars. Aside from Pitt, he’s been offered by Syracuse, Minnesota, Gonzaga and Mizzou. An issue for him, and which may be affecting his recruiting ranking is that he needs to bulk up. He’s only in the 200-215 pound weight range.
It’s easy to say, Pitt should just find some diamond-in-the-rough 6-10 or bigger guy and develop him. But it is not that easy. As good a job as Coach Dixon and the staff did in finding and developing Aaron Gray and Gary McGhee, they are the exceptions and rarities. It can be tough enough to develop good centers who aren’t the very best of the class each year. Just take a look at the UConn roster in the past 4 years — and how many centers they ran off the team or didn’t play (Mandeldove, Okwandu, Edwards, Bradley and Wolf).
I do think Pitt doesn’t use all three scholarships on the front court. I think Dixon saves one scholarship for a point or combo guard.
Back in May, there were a bunch of guards on the Pitt radar. I think Dixon really wants to find another player to effectively run the offense after next season when Robinson is the only point guard on the team. There doesn’t seem to be a player on the roster at this time, that would seem to be a fit to play even spot duty in 2013-14. Or at least none I feel very comfortable seeing at the point right now.
One shooting guard that Pitt has begun to keep tabs on is in Ohio.
Bailey emerged as one of the top young players in Ohio after an outstanding sophomore season with the Polar Bears. He’s already been offered a scholarship by Miami, Ohio, with more offers likely to come in the next few months. Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon has been in Jackson to watch Bailey, and Ohio State coach Thad Matta was impressed with the combo-guard during last summer’s team camp on the OSU campus.
“I’ve been told there are other schools that plan to offer me in the next couple weeks,” Bailey said. “I’ll just have to see what happens and probably make my decision before my senior season.”
Bailey is 6-5 and was also selected to attend the Nike Elite 100 camp. MaxPreps lists him as a 4-star recruit, while Rivals.com and ESPN.com say 3-star. Bailey lives in Massillon. The same area Dixon once mined to get Antonio Graves.