Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings received tremendous news on Friday when he received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-5 inch, 225 pound Northwest Florida State College small forward Jared Wilson-Frame. He will have two years of eligibility with the Panthers. The Hartford, CT native averaged 15.4 points per game in 2015-16. Wilson-Frame shot 40.5 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from the 3-point range. He has been ranked either the #1 or #2 ranked junior college player in the nation by various recruiting services.
Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Wilson-Frame about his official visit last week. He was quick to shed some light on what led to his commitment.
“Prior to the visit, I had already thought highly of Pitt, especially Coach [Kevin] Stallings. He’s a coach that most college basketball players already know about. I like his playing style and his system,” he said. “When Coach [Jeremy] Ballard started recruiting me very hard along with Coach Stallings, the connection and honesty that I got from them, I really liked. They weren’t telling what I wanted to hear, they told me what I needed to hear. They told me what I needed them for and what they need me for. Going into it, I was already thinking highly of Pitt.”
“I really like the way the campus is set up in the city. I’m from the city and I haven’t been home as much as I wish I could. Pitt has a real home town feel to it. I love the gym, it’s amazing. The fans, everyone knows about them. The Oakland Zoo is one of the best student sections in the country. When I took a tour of the campus and meetings with the academic advisor and life skills coach, all the things I saw that involve the school and what the school helps you with. They helping your image and crafting you to become a better a person and how it all fits into basketball. That’s what really stood out to me and made me even more comfortable. I knew I wanted to commit after that. I already wanted to commit due to the basketball end and then when I saw everything else, I knew Pitt was the place for me.”
On Friday, Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with NWFSC head basketball coach Steve DeMeo. He described Wilson-Frame as a “special player that could help any team in the nation.”
We asked Jared to describe his strengths as a basketball player and he stated, “Versatility has always been my strongest suit. I have the ability to be very good at many different things; shooting the ball, passing the ball, handling the ball and playing defense. I’m going to bring intensity and passion to the court. I’m a natural born leader. I’m always encouraging guys and getting guys hyped. I’m never quiet in the gym. In the ACC, having that passion, that fire, that intensity is necessary. I think I bring all the right intangibles to Coach Stallings system.”
Wilson-Frame indicated that he felt very comfortable with all of the players on the team. He quickly developed a rapport with them. One player received special attention. “I hung out mostly everybody, Ryan Luther, Chris Jones, Damon Wilson and Mike Young. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike. He’s an All-ACC selection, just watching him practice and how serious he took things,” he said. “I want to put myself in a position to be drafted and knowing that he’s in that position, I take a lot of notes from guys like that just by observing.”
Wilson-Frame is the fourth player to join Pitt’s sizable 2017 recruiting class. The Panthers roster will be significantly younger next season. Four of the five member recruiting class will more than likely be true freshmen. Jared was asked if he was prepared to fill a leadership role on the roster next season. He quickly replied, “Yes, that’s one thing Coach Stallings and I spoke quite a bit about. He told me I’m a natural born leader and he told me to focus on that this year along with everything else I do. He wants me to go hard every day as well. He wants me to be a leader and make sure all of my messages are delivered the right way. Be a leader by example and voice. It’s something I have been doing and it’s something that I’m trying to perfect.”
“I’m relieved to get the process over with. This is dream come true. Not just for me, but for everyone that I grew up around,” he said. “I can’t wait to be Panther.”
NOTE: Pitt’s coaching staff hopes to add front court help with its final 2017 scholarship. The prime target is Miami (FL) Miami Christian School center Felipe Haase (6-foot-10 inches, 235 pounds).
Harry G. Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru