May 5, 2017

So the  two weeks have been close to positive for Pitt basketball and coach Kevin Stallings. Or at least as good as it’s been since the season ended.

No one else left, a couple coaches hired, a NLI signed and now a transfer. Let’s review.

Working backwards, Pitt got a much needed bit of new blood. Neither of which, will do much in 2017, but will have an impact starting in 2018.

Khameron Davis is part of the 2017 class, but he is almost assuredly going to end up redshirting.

“So my story is definitely a little different,” Davis said Thursday night. “I played for my high school for three years in Colorado. It was great and I was playing well, but I didn’t get a lot of exposure. So I decided to spend my senior year in Kansas for better competition and exposure. It definitely worked, but then I did a post-grad year at a place called Forest Trail in North Carolina.”

The 6’4″ 190-pound guard with an incredible wingspan still wasn’t hearing from many high-major schools after the post-grad year. In fact, it was basically Texas Tech, Charleston Southern and Tennessee Tech showing interest before Pitt came calling.

His wingspan is reportedly over 6-10. Something that could make him an impactful defensive player on the perimeter — and about the only reason he should see the court this year. Based on the story, he is clearly excited about the opportunity and obviously is a kid that works hard.

The bigger future impact is in the transfer market. Malik Ellison a sophomore transfer from St. John’s decided on Pitt over Virginia and others.

A 6-foot-6 guard, Ellison averaged 7.4 points and 2.5 assists per game as a sophomore last season while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range. After sitting out next season, per NCAA transfer rules, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Ellison started 26 games and averaged 24.8 minutes per game last season for the Red Storm, who finished 14-19 under second-year coach Chris Mullin. His decision to leave the program, according to a New York Post report on March 29, was due to concerns over playing time, particularly once Arizona transfer Justin Simon is eligible next season.

The arrival of Ellison could play an interesting role in Pitt’s reported recruitment of graduate transfer Darien Williams, who averaged 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for St. John’s last season, as Williams and Ellison are good friends. Williams, once he selects his destination, will be immediately eligible.

Ellison is the son of former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Pervis Ellison, who led Louisville to a national championship as a freshman in 1986.

Pitt not only needs bodies for this year, they need players for the year after. With so many available scholarships a traditional transfer (or two) would be a huge boost for Pitt to try and return to — at a minimum — middle-of-the-pack in the ACC.

If it also helps land a graduate transfer for the frontcourt, then even better. Williams is a 6-8 power forward and former JUCO who played about 12 minutes a game last season. Numbers aren’t eye-popping to say the least, but to put it bluntly, Pitt needs bodies for the front court.

Another graduate transfer who may be looking harder at Pitt (and Pitt may be pursuing him a lot harder at this point) is guard Geno Thorpe. You may remember the former Shaler product from his years at Penn State, before he transferred to USF and played last season there averaging 15 ppg.

With USF with a new coach following a disastrous time under Orlando Antigua, Thorpe is looking for a different place one last time. When Thorpe first announced his transfer, Pitt still had Aaron Thompson coming (who just signed with Butler). It didn’t make a lot of sense for Pitt to pursue Thorpe as the need was greater in the frontcourt. Now, Thorpe would be a significant help for next year.

Shamiel Stevenson signed his letter of intent, so the small forward will help.

In the assistant coaching front, Stallings made two moves. The most recent is not exactly exciting or much beyond a bit of a help-an-old-buddy out hire.

Coaching veteran Matt Woodley will join the University of Pittsburgh basketball staff as a special assistant to the head coach for the 2017-18 season, head coach Kevin Stallings announced Monday. His duties will include assisting the coaching staff with game preparation, practice plans, scouting reports as well as day-to-day basketball operations.

“Matt [Woodley] has a terrific basketball mind and will be a tremendous addition to our staff,” said Stallings. “His experience at the collegiate level and in the pro ranks will be invaluable to our program as we build a winning culture. His passion for the game, attention to detail and selfless attitude mirror the core values of the Pitt basketball program.”

Woodley has been in the professional ranks for the past three seasons, helping lead the Iowa Energy (NBDL) to back-to-back 26-24 finishes before being named head coach prior to the 2016-17 season. He was relieved of his head coaching duties midway through the 2016-17 season.

Meh. It’s officially a non-coaching and non-recruiting position. Other coaches have used the spot for old mentors or former players looking to get into coaching (Steve Lavin most famously hired former Purdue head coach Gene Keady for the spot while at St. John’s). If it helps in the preparation, great.

Not a real strong opinion on this one. Woodley worked for a few years as an assistant to Virginia head coach Tony Bennett while Bennett was at Washington State. His only college head coaching gig was at a D-II school. Maybe he has a beautiful basketball mind, meant for planning and prep.

The bigger assistant coaching hire was to replace Jeremy Ballard — who left to be an assistant at VCU. It wasn’t clear whether Stallings was going to promote one of the young support assistants or go outside. Stallings opted to go outside of the present staff — sort of.

University of Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings announced the addition of assistant coach Sam Ferry to his coaching staff for the 2017-18 season, Wednesday afternoon. Ferry has spent the past six years at Monmouth University, including the past four seasons as an assistant coach.

“Sam is a tireless worker on the court and on the recruiting trail,” said Stallings. “He has established great recruiting ties across the Northeast and down into Virginia. His energy and enthusiasm for the game of basketball are infectious and his ability to connect with players is impressive. Sam is an outstanding addition to our staff and will make a significant impact as we build our program here at Pitt.”

Ferry joined King Rice’s staff at Monmouth in 2011 as the director of operations and was promoted to the position of assistant coach prior to the 2013-14 season. Ferry was an integral part of the program’s success in 2015-16, including winning a school-record 28 games and the MAAC regular season title. As a result, Ferry was named to the Under Armour 30-under-30 Team as part of the NABC’s Guardians of the Game Awards, recognizing 30 men’s basketball coaches under the age of 30. This past season the Hawks posted a 27-7 record, while claiming the MAAC regular season title and reaching the NIT for the second consecutive season.

Ferry played a major role in recruiting for the Hawks, developing ties in the northeast through New England and across the Maryland and Virginia areas.

Oh, there are plenty of ties. Ferry went to Vanderbilt during Stallings tenure, and was a student manager for the basketball team. After graduating he joined the staff as director of video operations. After one year of that, he left for Monmouth with King Rice — who was an assistant at Vanderbilt — to be an assistant under Rice.

Ferry is young and ambitious, which are definitely things needed for Pitt in recruiting. He focuses on the Northeast, which Pitt had fallen off in recruiting recently. It does appear to be a solid hire. Really, the only oddity is, why it took nearly a month to happen?

“This is a long-term situation here, as far as I’m concerned,” Stallings said. “Every decision I make I try to make with the long-term best interests of the program in mind. While we feel some urgency and while there is some urgency about 2017 recruiting and there’s certainly urgency about 2018 recruiting, this decision was made because I felt like it was the best long-term decision for Pitt basketball. I don’t think you can make short-term decisions and expect them to have a positive, long-term impact. Everything we’re doing right now we’re trying to do with two or three or four years down the road in mind.”

Dare to dream, Stallings. Dare to dream.

[End, Editor Note. Stallings had a big sit-down interview with local media on Thursday. Articles were published today. I will try to have some thoughts put together tomorrow or Sunday.]

We lose to IUP, Robert Morris and Duquesne.

Comment by TX Panther 05.08.17 @ 7:58 pm

Damn. I was the one to bust the 50 comments rule. Chas…WTF?

Comment by TX Panther 05.08.17 @ 7:59 pm

Has anyone tried reaching out to Chas either thru email or social media? Not sure if he is aware of problem? I would think it’s a correctable issue. At least I hope so, it makes maintaining dialogue between commenters very difficult…

Comment by Pap76 05.08.17 @ 8:12 pm

Tweet him

Comment by TX Panther 05.08.17 @ 8:34 pm

TX I looked at Chas’s Twitter page, it doesn’t appear anyone has told him. I don’t have a Twitter account, or I would have gladly let him know. I don’t Facebook either. If you or anyone else does they reach out.

Like I said it makes keeping dialogue going pretty difficult. I would think this has to be a fixable problem…

Comment by Pap76 05.08.17 @ 9:38 pm

Pitt loses another bball player. TIme to dump KS!!!

Comment by Dan 72 05.08.17 @ 9:39 pm

Pap76 – This happens all the time. He has to know. People bitch about it every week. Rockports < Dog Taint

Comment by Upittbaseball 05.08.17 @ 10:12 pm

UPitt-What’s up buddy, yeah I would have figured he would know too. He hasn’t mentioned or addressed it all. Hopefully he lets us know one way or another.

Hope you figure out the medical issue you’ve been having. Yours sounds much worse but my right ear has been clogged for almost 2 weeks, it happened one other time, driving me nuts, so I can imagine what you’re dealing with…

Comment by Pap76 05.08.17 @ 10:29 pm

Nix was crap and should not have been on the roster.

Dixon should be ripped for letting him take up a scholarship, Stalling should be praised for once because he got him off the team. The only thing the guy has done correct.

Comment by notrocketscience 05.09.17 @ 10:00 am

I don’t know if the players KS is bringing in will be any good, they certainly will not be worse than this list. KS matched Dixon’s one 4 star recruit in the last two or three years. Dang, that is a pathetic list except Johnson, who isn’t exactly a star.

Crisshawn Clark
Rozelle Nix
Damon Wilson 4 star
Tyrone Haughton
Ryan Luther
Sheldon Jeter
Cam Johnson

Comment by notrocketscience 05.09.17 @ 10:03 am

Every once in a while I try to trick myself in believing we are not in that bad of shape, and should at least be more competitive next year (than 4 wins). Then I am brought back to reality: We are competing against Duquesne & Penn State for Monty Boykins, who in turn played his college ball at Lafayette.

Comment by 1618mt 05.09.17 @ 11:31 am

If he shoots better than Kithcart, Boykin is a plus, lol. Oh wait, that isn’t a very high bar.

Comment by notrocketscience 05.09.17 @ 11:57 am

1618mt- exactly! His career high was 19 pts against Sacred Heart. We are in a dog fight with PSU and Duquesne for a kid that has never dropped 20 in the Patriot League. This is a kid that I should supposedly a real 3 pt threat. Shouldn’t a kid who can knock down 3’s had at least a 20 pt night?

What’s even sadder is I won’t be surprised if we don’t land him…

Comment by Pap76 05.09.17 @ 1:34 pm

At least this staff is offering the top 100 players. Not saying they will get any of them but they are trying.

Comment by JP 05.09.17 @ 7:21 pm

In his freshman year Boykins shot 33% from the field, 27% from 3, and 57% from the line in over 10 minutes per game. Boykins shot 38% from the field, 36% from 3, and 62% from the line in his last full season (junior). All this was at Lafayette in a low end league and poor team.

The incoming class is loaded with players with stats like this who played against inferior competition. They may go winless in the ACC next year.

Apparently the grand plan of the genius is to load the roster with guys who can’t shoot and rid it of anybody who can grab the rebounds.

Stallings recruited Kithcart and Jeter while at Vanderbilt. It’s not like Stallings never saw anything there.

Comment by Barvo 05.09.17 @ 8:55 pm

Might go winless in acc ? definitely will go winless in acc. Only question if team wins a game all year. It’s going to b unprecedented disaster.

Comment by Steve 05.09.17 @ 9:09 pm

I think KS will be fired mid way through the year. The Zoo will throw him to the Lions.

Comment by TX Panther 05.09.17 @ 9:14 pm

Nix was a heartening episode in a tumultuous Season.

Comment by PittofDreams 05.10.17 @ 5:14 am

However limited his basketball skills.

Comment by PittofDreams 05.10.17 @ 5:15 am

By the way, Pens Game 7.

Comment by PittofDreams 05.10.17 @ 5:17 am

On its face, not a whole lot for Pens fans to feel confident about.

Comment by PittofDreams 05.10.17 @ 5:20 am


Who left the Pitt team that could grab rebounds and was a great shooter? Ah, no one.

Johnson was the only loss and it remains to be seen if he even develops.

Comment by notrocketscience 05.10.17 @ 7:20 am

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