Author Kelly Braffet wrote in Last Seen Leaving once wrote, “All he would say was that sometimes you have to burn it down and start over.” Kevin Stallings is clearly a frustrated coach. He’s dealt with lack of depth, a true center, a point guard and erratic play from his overworked senior class. The current season has been the epitome of chaos, but time moves on and next season, Stallings gets to reset and rejuvenate the entire basketball program. Yes, he gets to burn it down and start over. And Pitt is a basketball program that’s in dire need of new blood and attitude.
Stallings has added six players to the 2017 recruiting class. A few more recruits may be added when the dust settles. Five of the current six players will be true freshman, but one player will walk into the program with immediate expectations. That player will become one of the key faces of the program. A face with a menacing bear. That player is 6-foot-5-inch, 220 pound Niceville (FL) Northwest Florida State College wing Jared Wilson-Frame.
Wilson-Frame is a mature young man that is cognizant of the expectations next season. He knows that he will be relied upon for immediate contributions on and off the court. The Panthers will need someone with strong leadership abilities, toughness, grit and attitude. Wilson-Frame is ready to step into that role.
Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with him about his current season and the future.
“Right now, we have one more conference game on Saturday which we’re looking at finish off at the season we’re at 11-0 right now,” said Wilson-Frame. “After that is the regional tournament which is in Ocala.After we win that, we go to nationals. Nationals start on March 28th.”
Wilson-Frame has averaged 16 points, 5 rebound and 4 assists per game for the Raiders. Rated by 247 as a 4-star recruit, he’s regarded as of the top five junior college players in the nation. When asked how his game has evolved his senior season, he replied, “One thing I’m definitely better at, better in the role I’m starring in right now is being a great leader. That’s one thing I see myself grow with over time. I was a captain last year on the team as a freshman. This year is much better,” he said. “This year is much more understanding and respect. It helps our team in so many ways. I’m always talking. I lose my voice, literally, after every game. That’s one thing, I think, I’ve improved on most.”
“My decision making has improved. Decision making when it comes to my shots, shots I’ve taken and my ball handling. I’ve seen a great improvement. I did start at point guard last year for most of the season, but that’s just one thing I have worked on a lot better. Shot selection and ball handling and defense especially. I could always play defense but this year I’ve taken more of a mental note to make sure I always give 100% effort on defense.”
Wilson-Frame is in regular and close contact with Kevin Stallings and staff. and has watched and analyzed every game this season. Jared is no different that the most rabid member of the Oakland Zoo. He wants to see the Panthers excel in the ACC conference.
When asked about his thoughts heading into next season, he stated, “I’m already talking to the coaches. They’ve already told me what they are looking for out of me next year. They told me that they’re building the team around, one, my ability and then, two, my leadership role,” he said. “That’s one thing they told me I’ll be stepping into. I already know what comes with the basketball part and just my God given ability. As a leadership is concerned, that’s one thing they always stress, just making sure I translate that to next year.”
“I’m looking forward into stepping into that leadership role with an entirely new team. Because I see them struggling. I watch every single game, believe me. Even on the days we play the same time, I sit down and watch, literally the whole game. I’m a basketball junkie. I watch all the games. That’s one thing I actually am looking forward to, is a lot of people come in and the new look roster. We can develop a new attitude and our own identity. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to, just building our identity. Everybody being together as one and just playing hard and following our coaches and captains. One of them probably going to be me. I want to set an example and heave the younger players follow our lead. I want to make sure we’re all together and playing as hard as we can.”
Wilson-Frame will immediately be looked to for help, but he knows that contributions from the freshmen will be critical. The Panthers used to be the ‘bad boys’ of the Big East years ago. Pitt played a physical, aggressive style of basketball. Jared wants to that style of play to permeate amongst the team next season. “That’s exactly my attitude on what I want next year. I’ve seen Marcus (Carr) play many times and I actually know Aaron (Thompson),” he said. “That’s one thing Aaron and I have talked about. I can just tell from the type of guy he is. That’s one thing we’re definitely going to have next year. We want our team to have a mean, gritty side. We’ll get down and dirty and play with anybody.”
When Pittsburgh Sports Now interviewed Northwest Florida State College head basketball coach Steve DeMeo, he told us that Wilson-Frame could play multiple positions on the court and his versatility was a major asset to any team. He stated, “(Jared) can play the 2 (shooting guard) and 3 (small forward). He can score at all three levels.”
Jared, after multiple conversations with Pitt’s coaching staff, already has a strong grasp of what positions he will be playing. “I know I’m going to be playing multiple positions. I’ll play both guard spots and the wing. I’ll be having to play at some point,” he said. “They tell me all the time, you know, I’m going to have to be ready for teams to throwing the whole kitchen sink at me. Because I’m going to have to be playing and doing multiple things on the court. Probably going to be somewhere on the wing, not on the ball, but I know I’m going to be playing multiple, different roles.”
“I’m ready to get to Pitt and make an impact. There’s a lot of weight on my shoulders and I’m prepared to carry it.”