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June 5, 2014

That seems to be what is happening. Everyone is watching. Everyone is waiting to see what is happening over the next couple of weeks.

With a decreasing number of players expected to leave the Pitt program this year — thanks to the stability created by coach Paul Chryst and his staff — and 49 added in the past two recruiting classes, expect this year’s group to be the smallest since Chryst welcomed 16 in 2012.

Meanwhile, coaches and officials are making plans to host about 300 high school players this weekend and next at Pitt’s UPMC training facility on the South Side for the Paul Chryst Football Camps. This is, generally, where many players make up their minds, but where they also get plenty of instruction from members of the Pitt staff and other coaches.

The next two weekends are so important to the long-range growth of the program that Chryst is skipping ceremonies at Wisconsin-Platteville on June 13 where his late father George will be honored for three decades of service as coach and athletic director.

The attrition over the first two years is not uncommon. Now it is a matter of not just being more selective, but getting the kids to decide Pitt is their best choice.

In other things…

A VT blog post on attendance with ACC Exapnsion (h/t to Carolina Panther). The focus is obviously on VT, so it is amusing to see them downplaying the fact that their rise in attendance had more to do with Lane Stadium expansion than moving to the ACC. I would guess if they ran their attendance numbers based on capacity percentage, it would look a lot flatter.

Pitt benefited from a great schedule in their opening ACC season. It is cute as they try to puzzle out the 2003 spike. As much as the schedule was great — and Larry Fitzgerald — there were huge expectations for Pitt to break through that year. Just as there were expectations in 2008 that saw the attendance shoot up after bottoming out in 2007.

There is no question that every local media outlet loves their local kids. It can be any small town. It goes through the big cities. I always got a kick out of how even the NYC papers make a point of stating exactly from which borough a local kid on a college basketball team is. Pittsburght is no different. The local media love having WPIAL players on Pitt’s roster (or PSU and WVU). Now there was an article from Dejan Kovacevic on how even the pro teams should be looking more local when possible.

I think it is a bit overblown in the importance to the general public. It’s a nice story. And for much of the local media who may have covered the kid when he was in high school or college it makes it easier to be in contact with them. But economic impact of selling tickets and interest are minimal. Winning matters more than where the players are from.

And even Kovacevic had to backpedal a bit from it in an online chat when a fan tried to take it too far.

Pete: DK! Loved your column on local guys and drafting. Would you agree that we are seeing this at the amateur level here in Pittsburgh as Jamie Dixon is stockpiling his powerhouse Panthers with loads of WPIAL players after years of ignoring almost everyone from around here? Seems like Coach Dixon is ahead of the curve in recognizing local talent vs the professionals who pick talent and Pittsburgh is having a bit of a renaissance in basketball these days.

Dejan Kovacevic: Thanks regarding the column. First time I’ve really taken on that topic, but Neil Walker’s surge, Brandon Saad’s excellence, Aaron Donald’s near-miss and now having a local pitcher look like a high pick in the baseball draft Thursday all kind of added up.

Jamie’s done well locally, though I don’t know if it’s as much being ahead of the curve as it is just being the biggest dude on the block. Duquesne had scouted Ryan Luther out of Hampton as if he were a long-lost son. Jamie showed up, offered a scholarship to a far better program, and that was that.

Wrapping up great Western Pennsylvania players is no way to excel in hoops, nor is that true of hockey or baseball or even football. But there’s something to be said for knowing the territory — that’s knowing, not preferring — and reacting accordingly.

Again, it makes for a nice story. And when an Aaron Donald happens it is even better. But you can’t live off local.





Chas, I may differ in opinion with you on this, maybe because you are not a Western PA native.

I always chastise non-Pitt fans from Western PA by saying that Pitt is the local college and its roster (FB) is largely made up of city and WPIAL players, thus, they deserve our support. Further, it always bother me wehn we lose the Robert Foster’s and Dravon Henry’s to thers.

I know when local players do go elsewhere, I still root for them to do well (much less so for those going to WVU or PSU).

Don’t get me wrong .. I welcome talent from anywhere we get it from, but take exceptional pride when its local (Tyler Boyd, Dejuan Blair, Aaron Donald, etc)

Comment by wbb 06.05.14 @ 7:57 am

@Chas

Whatever happened to Mike, who was supposed to be joining you with posts on here?

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 06.05.14 @ 7:57 am

Time will tell if Malik makes the grade. Hopefully our coaches have the ability to find the “diamonds in the rough”.

While you will never get them all, for many reasons, it does hurt to lose the Fosters and Henrys, when you come that close. Although Nicholson and now Jenkins never seemed at all interested in Pitt, you hate to lose that local talent.

At first blush, Malik does not appear to be anywhere near the caliber of Henry or certainly not Nicholson. But he does want to come and that is what counts.

Hopefully we will hear about some kids coming that have a few more stars in the near future.

Comment by gc 06.05.14 @ 8:46 am

Two more Henderson’s I really want Quadree and Kyle.

Comment by pd 06.05.14 @ 9:45 am

Whoops that doesn’t sound right. Pitt really needs to land Quadree and Kyle Henderson.

Comment by pd 06.05.14 @ 12:12 pm

Panther’s Prey has a rundown on prospects at camp.

link to panthersprey.blogspot.com

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 06.05.14 @ 4:30 pm

Dokish highlights Brett Zanotto, the Linebacker from Franklin Regional who Pitt has yet to offer.

The kid more than makes up for being just 6 feet with his athleticism and tenacity.

See for yourself.

link to hudl.com

Comment by PittofDreams 06.05.14 @ 5:20 pm

Calipari just got 7 year $52M deal to stay at UK

Comment by wbb 06.05.14 @ 7:37 pm

Thanks PoD, he looks like he could play right now, excellent speed an nose for the ball. Maybe a little small, but he has a couple years to muscle up.

Dockish’s list is a little disappointing if that is the best that is left.

Comment by gc 06.05.14 @ 10:28 pm

“…Neil Walker’s surge, Brandon Saad’s excellence, Aaron Donald’s near-miss…”
What is Donald’s near miss? Kovacevic is talking about people being great and Donald is not?

Comment by Caw Miller 06.06.14 @ 6:19 am

There was an article in today’s Trib about JD being the keynote speaker at St Anthony’s (school for disadvanatged) breakfast .. also atended by HCPC.

It also said that he just returned from a Nike coaching event, and here is the last paragraph …

Thursday was a busy day for Dixon, who said he planned to interview two candidates for the coaching vacancy on his staff created when Barry Rohrssen left for Kentucky. He also was scheduled to speak Thursday night at a Pitt booster event in Johnstown.

Comment by wbb 06.06.14 @ 7:06 am

Who is Carolina Panther? ;)

Comment by Atlanta Panther 06.06.14 @ 10:11 am

Did you see the crazy money that UK is “Giving”
John Calipari?…more than 7 mil per year over 7 years….A western PA native who has done very well financially for himself

Comment by Jerry S 06.06.14 @ 1:03 pm

More trouble brewing at UNC?…Keith McCants (second leading scorer on 2005 national championship team)said that he took bogus classes at UNC, seldom attended class and that others wrote papers for him. Roy Williams denies knowing about this…of course. Really makes JD and the Pitt players (Cam Wright, Mike Young Jamel Artis et.al. who excel in class and on the court) look good! H2P!!!!

Comment by Jerry S 06.06.14 @ 1:11 pm

Two more Clairton Bears in the recruiting pipeline. Where would Pitt be right now without Clairton? Looking for major help at WR and DB, that’s for sure.

Comment by Iron Duke 06.06.14 @ 4:36 pm

Just read ESPN’s piece on McCants. Trouble at John Swofford’s home base? The whistle-blowing academic adviser believes him.

I’m still waiting to find out if Cam Newton went to any classes during his pro tryout year at Auburn. I bet not.

Congratulations to Jamie for valuing the future lives of his athletes. When I hear some of the things LeBron says and thinks, it’s obvious the guy needs a college education.

Comment by TonyinHouston 06.06.14 @ 4:54 pm

ESPN announced ACC revenue. Record setting at $291.7 million. Pitt will get $20.8 million.

The Hillbillies are getting $23 million from the Big Twelve, minus what they have to pay back to the league when the jumped ship.

link to espn.go.com

Comment by TonyinHouston 06.06.14 @ 7:40 pm

Wonder how this compares to the B10. ACC Channel (when it happens) will give even more due to its population edge over all other conferences.

Comment by Frank MD 06.06.14 @ 7:47 pm

If $23M is the full Big 12 share, I don’t think WVU is going to see that full share for 6 or 7 years.

Comment by HbgFrank 06.06.14 @ 11:00 pm

Just remember those figures are what the league provides. Both schools, especially PSU, make good money from getting large home crowds paying good money to attend. Not sure what WVU averages for home games but my guess is that they charge a higher ticket price than what Pitt does

Comment by wbb 06.07.14 @ 6:07 am

JD at St. Anthony’s outstanding coach and even a better person. Hope he stays at Pitt forever.

Happy to see Pitt expand its recruiting base. Signing talented
local kids will always be important however the WPIAL
talent isn’t what it used to be at least in numbers of D-1
players.

The staff seems to have a methodical approach to recruiting
And seems to be able to recruit players/students who share
values on and off the field. Now if they could only recruit additional QBs!

Comment by JR 06.07.14 @ 6:43 am

Alex Hornibrook, a QB from Malvern Prep (PA), has committed (verbally) to the Panthers.

Rivals: ***
247: ***

Highlights: link to hudl.com

Other Offers: Akron, Rutgers, UConn, and a few others.

Comment by Mailman 06.07.14 @ 2:37 pm

Thanks for the tip Mailman. Nice to have a smart, mobile quarterback in the fold.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 06.07.14 @ 2:51 pm

Yale too! Give him a redshirt to strengthen that arm a bit. Solid pick up by Chryst. Solid start to June fellas! Let’s keep the momentum.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 06.07.14 @ 3:08 pm

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