Here’s a simple reality. It is very likely that Pitt basketball is going to slip a little further in the short term before it improves.
Complain about the disappointments of this season, but there aren’t that many examples of programs that lost their head coach after being in the NCAA Tournament — and improving immediately. Let alone tread water. In the last five years, the only examples that spring to mind are just this past year: Shaka Smart to Texas, Iowa State under Steve Prohm and Will Wade at VCU. And again, all three didn’t do dramatically better. They stayed constant.
There are just so many changes. From style of play, lost recruiting class, transfers, graduations.
If you have been saying that the problem with Pitt under Dixon in the last few years is the talent on the court, then whoever the coach is won’t be able to do much about that for next year and possibly the year after.
It is very likely that Pitt will lose at least one member of the present recruiting class. And you may not think that highly of the class, but the program still needs players. At the very least it was a solid 3-4 star class.
Justice Kithcart had a fantastic senior year, and has been rising in recruiting rankings. ESPN already upped him to a 4-star and Rivals is expected to in their final rankings. If he asks for his release — and the absolutely right thing for Pitt or any program would be to grant it after a coaching change — the demand for his services will be big at this time of the year. It almost certain that coaches from other programs are indirectly reaching out to him even as you read this.
Corey Manigault is giving thoughts to his future.
Crisshawn Clark is unknown, but I have to imagine he is giving it some serious thought.
I don’t think there will be much in the way of transfers with the way this team is constructed. Young, Artis, Jeter and Jones will all be seniors. Luther and Johnson are local kids. You have the JUCOs in Milligan and Nix who both sat out this year. Unlikely that they would want to lose a year and sit. The only possible question mark could be Damon Wilson, but given how much playing time he is in line to get, that seems unlikely.
No matter who the next coach is, the pressure is huge for the 2017 recruiting class with 4 open spots (possibly 5 or more). The team is in decent shape for next year, but then the players really turn over.