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June 24, 2014

Three More In the Fold

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:37 pm

Over the weekend Pitt pulled a verbal from Florida. Today two more were added. Chryst really likes June.

First up, running back Sekai Lindsey verballed over the weekend.

[Sekai] Lindsay, who attends Melbourne Palm Bay High School, joins defensive back Malik Henderson of Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Lindsay, 5-foot-10, 205, is rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com. He also has offers from Cincinnati, Florida International, Georgia Tech, South Florida, Temple, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina State and Georgia Southern.

Lindsay is also considered a 3-star running back by 247. Scout.com has him at 2-stars and ESPN.com does not have an evaluation on him (and mixed up his name). Still, some decent offers do offset the star situation.

Today, saw two more verbals.

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June 18, 2014

Marlon “Smoke” Williamson was introduced as a new Pitt assistant coach yesterday.

“We are excited about Marlon becoming a member of the University of Pittsburgh community and I know he is ecstatic to be coming aboard,” Dixon said. “As a former point guard with strong knowledge of the game, Marlon will help us in recruiting, scouting and player development. We are fortunate to have a coach with his well-rounded background. Marlon is also extremely excited to be a part of our staff considering his family ties to Pittsburgh.”

The former YSU point guard is openly ambitious and perhaps a little cocky.

“Actually, my pursuit is to become a great assistant coach right now. In the future, I want to become a head coach,” Williamson said. “When you say ‘great assistant,’ you have to fill a lot of bullets. Recruiting is definitely one, but I don’t want to be singled out as just a recruiter. I can get in the film room and break down Xs and Os. The relationship with the players is a huge factor for you as a coach. It’s much easier to play for someone you respect and love versus someone you just play for. That’s what I want to strive for as a professional in this business, being able to relate to the coach, co-workers on the staff, as well as the players and their parents.”

So, like [UMass Coach Derek] Kellogg before him, Williamson made a move to put his career in an upward trajectory.

“This is a big step,” he said. “When you talk about the University of Pittsburgh and ACC, you’ve got to go get players first. Our position as assistants is to put Coach Dixon in a position to be great. I look at coach Dixon as a legend. I don’t think he hired Coach Knight or Coach Barton to be mediocre. We want to give him the tools that he can go coach those guys. Our goal is to win the last game. Why not us?”

These are not bad things for a young assistant.

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June 17, 2014

And The June Commits Continue

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:31 pm

A definite position of need. Defensive tackle is a spot Pitt needs to bring in some players. Today, it looks like Pitt got a good one in Kraig Howe.

Howe visited Pitt three times in the last year, with two visits in the fall and another unofficial visit this spring. After the spring visit, he spoke very highly of the Panthers.

“Pitt has been one of my favorites for a long time; really, since I got that offer,” he said after the visit. “They were my second offer and they’ve always been up there with my favorites and top choices, and this visit was really a boost for how much I could see myself playing for Pitt and going to school in Pittsburgh and playing for these coaches. I can see myself fitting in well with program and the defensive scheme and the school and the city. It’s all clicking.”

Howe had offers from BC, Northwestern, Iowa St. and Illinois. 247 ranks him as the the 53d best DT nationally (Rivals.com says 37th and Scout.com has him 45th). He is a 3-star recruit by every site.

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June 15, 2014

More Speed Added

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 9:25 am

There is an emerging theme to the recruiting class. Let’s call it what it is, “get faster.”

The latest addition to the speed force is Tre Tipton.

“I was thinking about it and me and my mom and my coach all talked, and we just said Pitt’s the place to be,” Tipton told Panther-Lair.com. “I called Coach (Paul) Chryst and I told him and he was excited. He said he can’t wait to start working with me.”

Tipton had been favoring Pitt for a long time – he was a fixture at the Panthers’ home games at Heinz Field last fall – but it was the two-day visit this past week that pushed him over the edge, since he spent those two days with current Pitt players, and that ended up being a major selling point for Pitt.

“It was the players and the people; they’re all so together, all so close-knit,” Tipton said. “The players are what sticks with you from the whole experience; they’re the ones who will mean the most when you’re there. I know that the guys that are there are the right ones for me; them and the coaches are the best ones for me.

“The coaches are of the best guys you can ever talk. They understand the process and what every young man has to do to be successful, and they’re like fathers to every guy that goes there. Everything just seems right at Pitt. I wanted it to feel like a family and ball out for four years with a family. They’re the ones for me.”

As a junior at Apollo-Ridge last season, Tipton, 6’1″ 170, caught 44 passes for 697 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. But it’s not just his scoring ability that led the Pitt coaches to offer him.

“They said I could be a very good fit for them,” he said. “They said they know I’m a hard-worker and wherever I can fit in, I’ll be able to play there. They said they think they can utilize me all over the offense.”

Tipton was also a standout defensive back, but it is clear that he wants to be on the offensive side of the ball.

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June 10, 2014

A Couple More In the Fold

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:18 pm

Pitt has added a couple verbals to the 2015 football class. I know this is a stunner, but they are on the offensive side of the ball.

Over the weekend, Pitt added a QB (hands off, Vanderbilt!).

Malvern Prep’s Alex Hornibrook, a strong-armed junior quarterback, committed Saturday to play at Pittsburgh. He visited the school Friday and Saturday with his parents, and threw during one of the team’s camp sessions.

“Everything just felt right,” he said. “The campus is amazing, my interaction with the coaches was great, and it’s somewhere I could easily see myself playing.”

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound southpaw, who chose Pitt over Connecticut and Rutgers, added that he is excited about the Panthers renewing their heated rivalry with Penn State beginning in 2016.

Hornibrook is a consensus 3-star QB. He is also strong academically with an offer from Yale.

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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.

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June 4, 2014

We Got One

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 9:43 pm

Let’s  do this.

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June 2, 2014

Basketball Notes, 6/2

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:43 am

One week left until the summer vacation starts for the kids. Which for the first time for them — and me — means camps most of the summer. No more staying home with dad all summer to do stuff. No longer. Everyone is working outside the house this year. Not sure how much really changes for theirs or my schedule. Other than everyone being a little more sweaty from the activities.

Speaking of camp. 2016 verbal commit to Pitt basketball, Maverick Rowan, has been selected to the US contingent for the Adidas EURORCAMP in July.

The team includes top sophomore and junior high school players in the country. Included on the team are five juniors and five sophomores. Among the top juniors are Carlton Bragg, rivals.com’s No. 10 junior in the country. Other juniors are Dante Hales (No. 11) and Brandon Ingram (No. 24). Among the sophomores are 7-footer Thon Maker (No. 3 in the country), Dennis Smith (No. 16), De’Ron Davis (No. 23) and Kobi Simmons (No. 28).

The team will play against top international players who are eligible for this year’s NBA draft. The EUROCAMP is the only NBA-sanctioned pre-draft camp sanctioned by the NBA that is held outside the U.S.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Rowan. “Basically, we go over there and plays kids overseas who are training for the draft.”

Some very good company.

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May 1, 2014

When Jameel Poteat decommitted from Pitt during the Wannstedtian upheaval of 2010-11, it was a difficult but understandable action. Difficult because the 4-star, Bishop-McDevitt kid was also relative of one of the few standout Panthers from the late 90s. He attended the same high school LeSean McCoy did, and was talking of following his path. Difficult because Pitt had done so well in mining Bishop-McDevitt up to that point and getting some very good players.

At the same time it was understandable. Poteat didn’t know the new coaching staff. The offensive system did not seem to fit him well. And he was hardly the only decommit from that group, that he almost got lost in the volume. He switched to Cinci and Malcolm Crockett went from being a Cinci verbal to coming to Pitt.

Things did not work out the way anyone expected. Poteat did not develop as his star ranking suggested. Eventually transferring from Cinci down to Stony Brook.

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April 28, 2014

Cullen Christian Ghosts Out

Filed under: Football,Transfer — Chas @ 7:44 am

I won’t lie. I didn’t even know Cullen Christian was still on the team.

After three years at Pittsbugh, Cullen Christian will be transferring to West Virginia.

Christian graduated from Pitt on Sunday, earning his degree in Administration of Justice. He will go on scholarship at West Virginia, where he will be enrolled in graduate school pursing a Masters in Sports Management.

“I know where I wanted to go after I graduate, and I’m going to West Virginia,” Christian said. “This is something I’m looking forward to. I’ve already started conditioning, and getting ready. I went to the spring game, which was cool. I got to meet the coaches. I’m going to go there this week and get my apartment set up this week. I’ll start school on (May) 19th.”

Christian transferred to Pitt in 2011, after playing as a true freshman at Michigan. After sitting out the 2011 season, due to the transfer rule, he started the first two games of the 2012 season, including the Cincinnati game where he had two pass breakups.

Christian will be reunited with defensive backs coach Tony Gibson for a third time in his career.

Not trying to be mean, but this isn’t much of a loss for Pitt. He wasn’t going to show up on the two-deep. He really never had much of an impact.

Congratulations on graduating. Good luck in West Virginia.

April 21, 2014

Pitt Adds a Late Local

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 3:00 pm

Curious to say the least, but Pitt has added a new member to the 2014 recruiting class.

Cameron Johnson is a local kid. He goes to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Which is apparently in Coraopolis. He was the Trib player of the year. He’s had a significant growth spurt in the last year.

Johnson started his junior season as a 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard. He now stands 6-6, 185, and can play almost anywhere.

“I expected to grow at least some in high school because my parents are tall and my mom grew late,” said Johnson, whose father is 6-8 and mother is 5-11.

“It’s allowed me to play more positions, that’s for sure. I’ve always stuck to point guard and shooting guard. Now, I can fill in at small forward and power forward. That’s what schools like to see, a guy who is versatile and can play multiple positions.”

He may be up to around 6-7 or 6-8 at this point. His father, Gil Johnson, played at Pitt from 1988-90.

Johnson is not a rated recruit. He has strong academics so he had schools like Rice, Penn and Columbia after him. Late in the recruiting season schools like Stanford, BC and Virginia have been sniffing around him.

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April 16, 2014

It’s not the same, I know.

Tyrone Haughton signed his letter of intent today, to become a member of the Pitt’s 2014 recruiting class. Haughton is a 6-9 C-F who came from the JUCO ranks.

Originally he was a 3-4 star recruit who signed to play with South Carolina. After Darrin Horn was fired and Frank Martin came in, things changed. Martin had a verbal from another big man at K-State. The player switched to South Carolina. Suddenly, the scholarship numbers weren’t right and it seems that South Carolina suddenly had a problem with Haughton’s grades.

Oh, but SC and Martin didn’t want Haughton to completely go away. Just go to prep school for a year and see how things look next year. Haughton said no thanks and went to junior college. Isn’t recruiting just a lovely thing?

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April 14, 2014

It seems assistant basketball coach Barry Rohrssen has been the rumored target to replace Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s Kentucky bench. Granted it has been a slow week-long rumble, but everyone is presuming it will happen (and thank you KSR comment kids for demonstrating that Kentucky fans have little basketball knowledge outside their own team).

For Rohrssen it is almost a no-brainer. Kentucky is a blue-blood job with huge exposure. No, John Calipari assistants haven’t had the greatest success rates, but they get opportunities. Rohrssen obviously wants another crack at being a head coach. His odds increase being on a staff like Kentucky  This may shock some, but the money may have very little to do with it.

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February 25, 2014

On The Bright Side… Recruiting

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:35 am

Frustrating as the season is going, there is always the hope of the future. Pitt is still recruiting for the 2014 class, despite appearing to be filled. It may be that they don’t know if Detrick Mostella will get his grades in order. It may be that they think someone might leave. But, Pitt is still pursuing Kobie Eubanks with a vengeance.

Eubanks is a high 3- to 4-star guard and teammate of 2015 commit Damon Wilson. He’s going to be waiting to the end of the last recruiting cycle to make his decision, but based on his visit choices Pitt is in the final mix.

The 6-foot-5 Eubanks will trip to Wichita State (March 1), Pittsburgh (March 3), Missouri (March 5), Baylor (TBA) and Minnesota (TBA).

Last Sunday, Eubanks told SNY.tv Pitt was working the hardest. His teammate, Damon Wilson, is committed there already for 2014.

“Kobie Eubanks is as good of 3-point shooter,” longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. “He has a picture-perfect stroke and shooting remains basketball’s EZ Pass. He can really shoot the ball.”

It’s still a tough group to beat. Frank Haith at Mizzou may be a “meh” coach, but he has been a tremendous recruiter. Same with Scott Drew at Baylor. Minnesota now has Richard Pitino running things, and he does seem to have his dad’s gift in recruiting.

I’d like to think that anyone who can shoot a three with any consistency has moved up in priority this season.

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February 21, 2014

Recruiting Goes Early

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:25 am

One (and everyone has their personal favorite) of the reasons for angst over Head Coach Paul Chryst’s recruiting strategy has been the slow start to recruiting. Early verbals were few and far between. While other schools were pulling those early commits, Pitt was waiting. Appearing to get left in the dust.

Not this year. It’s not yet March, but Pitt has 3 verbals for the 2015 class. Offensive lineman Alex Paulina kicked things off in January. They added a TE at the end of January and now a linebacker.

The theme with them all is that they are Western Pennsylvania recruits. Three of the top-ten recruits in Westertn PA based on one ranking. If you care to make overarching declarations then it could be seen that the coaching stability and Coach Chryst’s approach to recruiting is starting to bear earlier fruit. At least locally as the players and coaches in the area have come to know and be familiar with him.

We know Chryst isn’t going to come out and try and glitz, glam and dazzle recruits. He’s not going to push. He is going to be himself and let the players and their families make the decision. At this point, though, he has been establishing real relations with the local coaches and players that will be seniors this fall. Now they are much more comfortable with what he is doing and there seems to be a lot more desire to play for him and Pitt.

At least at a local level.

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