September 20, 2012

Overthinking Newkirk

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:41 am

The verbal of Josh Newkirk to Pitt is being taken — both locally and nationally — as pure evidence that Pitt and Coach Jamie Dixon will have no problem recruiting against ACC teams and in ACC country.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is adapting on the fly to the Panthers’ arrival into the ACC in 2013. The commitment from Word of God point guard Josh Newkirk in Raleigh, N.C., is the first example of the Panthers’ potential reach into the ACC region. Pitt should have no problems competing with the rest of the ACC in recruiting. The change of conference shouldn’t matter. Pitt now has even more to sell with the security of a new destination. There’s no reason why the Panthers should dip in the ACC. The Panthers aren’t even in the league yet and they already have made inroads in the ACC.

I must have missed the last few years where Pitt has been recruiting the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. A region that may not be “pure” ACC country, is certainly disputed territory.

As a symbol, I get it. Nabbing a recruit who is from NC. Who is surrounded by the 4 North Carolina schools is nice. And Newkirk himself made it clear that Pitt in the ACC was a big difference maker.

When asked if he would have committed to Pitt if the Panthers were still in the Big East, Newkirk said: “I don’t know. That would have been something to consider.”

One thing Newkirk will be looking forward to doing is going home to play some conference games against North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke and Wake Forest.

“I looked at those schools a little, but I feel like they overlooked me,” he said.

“I can’t wait to go back to play those games.”

But if Pitt had missed on Newkirk. If Newkirk had chosen Georgia Tech. Would that have been considered absolute proof that Pitt and Dixon were going to be in trouble trying to recruit deeper in the ACC region?

I doubt it. Just as silly scare articles from some last year about how Pitt basketball could suffer with a move to the ACC, were too conclusory or trying to make too broad a leap.

Personally, I felt that as long as Coach Dixon was able to keep the focus of his recruiting on the East Coast, there wasn’t much concern. Especially with the inroads in the last few years in the Baltimore/DC region. An area that has given Pitt James Robinson, Dante Taylor (prep school in MD), Talib Zanna and Durand Johnson just on the present roster.

The more intriguing issue may be why Coach Dixon so ardently pursued a point guard. Pitt has been looking all summer at point guards as much as they have big men.

I think that Coach Dixon looks at the present set of guards and is a little concerned at the overall ball-handling ability. I don’t think he is as certain that John Johnson will develop into the ball-handler and back-up point guard he hoped.

That has been Dixon’s strategy. If he can’t find a true point guard (Levance Fields, James Robinson), then find a guard (Travon Woodall) — or even guard/forward (Brad Wanamaker) — who has the requisite skill set and desire to handle the duties. Versatility has always been a trait Dixon looks for in players.

Pitt got away with it with Fields, even when he got hurt at times. But it blew-up last year when Woodall was injured and no one on the squad was able to play the position with any efficiency. I think Dixon is looking to make sure that there is more overall ball-handling depth.

At the same time, it isn’t like Newkirk is a Robinson clone. He’s much more of a playmaker and slasher. So his abilities are not purely duplicating Robinson.

Dixon sold him on the idea that both will play, possibly together at times.

“I can do things he can’t do and he can do things I can’t do,” Newkirk said.

Newkirk is a quick and athletic guard and is at his best in the open court.

Not sure how much Newkirk and Robinson really will play together at first. If Newkirk develops his perimeter game more, then it could happen.

from his highlights.. the kid is really athletic…possibly the most athletic guard pitt has had in a while.

Comment by Snala The Panther 09.20.12 @ 9:24 am

Have BJ Anya finish out the class. Or maybe more IDK what our numbers our

Comment by Tony C 09.20.12 @ 10:14 am

Anya would be a huge get. He’d soften the blow of likely losing Adams after one season, even though they’re not the same exact player.

I like the PG stockpiling. Definitely helps depth, as Chas noted, plus it fits the style we’re more likely to see in the ACC. With the athleticism coming in at the 1-3 spots overall, I think it’ll be a smooth transition.

Comment by JW 09.20.12 @ 10:32 am

FWIW, Jerome Dixon was from Baltimore … nonetheless, I hope that we can stil recruit the corridor from DC north into NYC which is the most fertile BB area in the US. I don’t have to tell you how well we have done with NYC, NJ and Philly kids and beleive that the Southeast won’t make up for it. This is not football.

Getting Anye would thrill me to no end

Comment by wbb 09.20.12 @ 1:05 pm

is Newkirk a 2013 or 2014 recuit?

Comment by steve h 09.20.12 @ 1:11 pm

Jermaine Dixon, not to mention Talib Zanna and Sam Young, both from DC Metro

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 09.20.12 @ 2:19 pm

I believe we’ll not only keep the NYC area, but now have expanded recruiting ground with the ACC.

The ACC is the premier hoops conference in the country now, and nothing even close.

Especially in the Eastern U.S.

Don’t want to kick a dog when he’s down, but the Big East not only will be playing second fiddle to the ACC, it will more closely match up with the Atlantic 10.

The BE and ACC battled for years on who was better.

With Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, and now even Notre Dame gone, not even close.

So, the mind set of a kid in NYC are DC is not to aspire to play in the Big East anymore, it will be to play in the ACC. The marquee league.

If a kid wants to stay in the Northeast, and play in the top conference, he will probably look to Pitt and Maryland, and with Jamie’s and asst. coaches connections, I believe the pipeline will still be there.

Yes, I look back fondly, when the final four had 3 BE teams, those days are gone. It’s a shell of it’s former self.

They certainly aren’t looking to BC. And, with UCONN playing in the BE, and with Calhoun retiring, don’t believe that will be a hoopsters dream destination.

Certainly, IMHO.

Comment by Dan 09.20.12 @ 2:32 pm

Dan–you forgot to mention the Cuse a Northeast kids destination school. I am certain they will be as big or bigger player as Pitt and probably a bigger player in northeast recruiting than Maryland.

Comment by pitt1972 09.20.12 @ 4:45 pm

Newkirk’s highlight video tells me absolutely nothing that would convince me he is special–or not special for that matter. There are plenty of guards whose highlight films would look just as good. Hopefully that is just a function of the inherent limitations of highlight films. Presumably Dixon has watched his play for extended periods/entire games and likes him based on a more extended view of his potentials and limitations.

Comment by pitt1972 09.20.12 @ 4:50 pm

@pitt1972, I stand corrected. For real, I was thinking, this is too easy. Yes, of course, Syracuse too.

Comment by Dan 09.20.12 @ 5:15 pm

p.s. I take no joy in seeing the BE this way. Just reality. SMU, Houston, Central Fla., S. Fla.??? In hoops??? C’mon.

Ideally, would be great to see Nova’, St. Johns’, and G-town hook up with the forever talked about Catholic league, with 5-6 teams from the A-10.

Now, still wouldn’t be the ACC, but would be one hell of a conference.

Comment by Dan 09.20.12 @ 5:18 pm

Calhoun leaving the Chihuahuas hurts the BE as well

Comment by steve1 09.20.12 @ 5:36 pm

WE only have 2 spots and they are now filled
if we sign another big man some one has to go who.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.20.12 @ 8:16 pm

Insurance for Adams being one and done. If he’s not, you’ll probably see Gilbert transfer is my guess. But a lot needs to happen before then.

Comment by JW 09.20.12 @ 9:38 pm

The thing I will miss most is playing in MSG. Maybe the ACC can get into MSG after the BE contract expires although St. John’s is the home team there.

The new Brooklyn Arena is a good possibility.

Frank MD

Comment by Frank MD 09.20.12 @ 10:59 pm

What’s up w/the WV ad on a Pitt site?

Comment by panther94 09.20.12 @ 11:35 pm

I would hate to see Gilbert leave he is young big and has alot of potential, I would rather see Cam Wright or another guard go if it came to that

Comment by steve h 09.21.12 @ 12:32 am

off topic but this is from today’s PG high school sports section

James Conner of Erie McDowell High School made a verbal commitment to Pitt this summer. The 6-2, 230-pound senior was recruited as a defensive end. But Conner has opened eyes with his ability as a running back. He had 246 yards on eight carries Saturday in a 49-20 win against Lancaster Catholic. Lancaster Catholic is the defending PIAA Class AA champion. In three games, Conner has 539 yards on 30 attempts.

Comment by wbb 09.21.12 @ 7:22 am

Isn’t it a little early to be thinking about the eventually disappointing basketball season? We have not yet gotten past the inevitably disappointing football season.

The Va Tech win is wearing off, and I am returning to reality. Sorry. Truly hope my tongue is in my cheek on that. We could use a good FB/BB season after last year.

Comment by PO'd Panther 09.21.12 @ 9:32 pm

No way Gilbert is asked to transfer. 7ft, strong, decent athletes are very hard to find.

Dixon should consider red shirting him this year. Adams will play 30 mins at center. The way Adams plays defense he shouldn’t be in foul trouble very often. Zanna and Taylor can handle the other 10. And with Adams in the middle and Zeigler at guard, Dixon will be able to go small, with Patterson at the four, for short stretches.

So if Anya comes next year and Adams stays (please God let that happen), then one of the guards will go. Johnson, Johnson and Wright are much less valuable than Gilbert.

Rumor has it that Anya is heading to Florida with Georgetown as the current second choice. Come on James Robinson get to work on your boy!

Comment by Boubacar Aw 09.23.12 @ 8:46 am

I’m not too excited about Anya. He’s got a great body and skill set for us, but his identified weakness have been attitude and work ethic. That does not sound like someone we bend over backward to get on the squad.

Comment by PantherP 09.24.12 @ 1:23 pm

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