Hope everyone had a good Easter weekend. My son and I went to the Spring Game on Saturday — I’ll get to that subject a bit later this week.
On late Friday evening it leaked out that Pitt was no longer the destination of guard Troy Simons. Simons was the leading scorer in all of junior college and a native of Pittsburgh. He had committed to Pitt back in March.
Simons is now looking hard at New Mexico.
The reasons aren’t entirely clear. It would seem that they had to do with his ability to get academically eligible at Pitt, but his junior college coach has denied that grades were the issue. Instead putting it on Pitt not bothering to communicate with him.
[Matt] Furjanic coached Simons at Polk (Fla.) Junior College. He said Simons didn’t receive a visit or a letter of intent because he was told by Pitt director of basketball operations Dan Cage that it’s not the program’s policy to do so with junior college transfers until they graduate.
Furjanic, a Rankin native who formerly coached at Robert Morris and Pitt-Greensburg, said Simons is on track to graduate by June 20.
“Because Pitt didn’t offer him a visit or a letter of intent, I felt it was in his best interests to look at other options because Pitt is making no attempt to sign him,” Furjanic said.
The late signing period for high schoolers started on April 12. It does not apply to JUCOs, but it isn’t an uncommon thing to have them sign and announce now as part of the class. I have no idea whether that policy regarding JUCO players signing until after they graduate is true or not for Pitt — or whether it was a recently implemented rule.
I can see the logic behind it, but it also means very little to let a kid sign now and release him later if there’s an academic problem. Seems like a strange time to implement a rigid rule unless it was a way to force the kid to move on without Pitt having to directly reject him.
His primary recruiter at Pitt was assistant Jeremy Ballard. Ballard, though, left Pitt for the same position at VCU last month. Which does lend some credence to the idea that Pitt’s interest in Simons diminished a bit without the coach who pursued him on staff to champion him.
The counter-point being the absolute lack of warm bodies in the program. With Simons, Pitt had 3 open scholarships (with at least three more opening up for the 2018 class). Hard to imagine Pitt wouldn’t want Simons simply to take up some space at this late time.
I have no idea what is going on with Pitt basketball at this point. I don’t know if the dysfunction that seems to be the public face of it right now is accurate. There is definitely a negative energy about the program that isn’t helping.