Pitt basketball had a big day in the Big Apple.
Jeff Capel and assistant coach Tim O’Toole spent the day visiting some of the top high school basketball programs in New York. It was a business trip, as they were starting the process of recruiting some of the top talent in the area.
Capel said he’d work to recruit the best players in the country and he has so far delivered on that. He has clearly gone after talent that is normally reserved for the elite programs in college basketball.
Pitt visited Archbishop Molloy High School to watch junior point guard Cole Anthony, the son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony. He is rated the top junior point guard and the #5 overall player by 247 Sports.
Anthony holds offers from Duke, Kansas, Georgetown, Louisville, St. John’s, UCLA and Miami. Capel started recruiting Anthony while he was still at Duke and has picked up where he left off.
Capel’s next stop on the recruiting tour was Christ the King High School to watch Kofi Cockburn a 6-foot-11 center. He is rated the #3 junior prospect in New York and #44 overall in the country by 247 Sports.
Capel and O’Toole then traveled to Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York to watch a pair on budding stars, R.J. Davis and A.J. Griffin, who is the son of former NBA player Adrian Griffin. This was a homecoming for O’Toole as he graduated from Stepinach in 1982.
Davis is a sophomore point guard while Griffin is a freshman forward. Davis had quite a day as he picked up offers from both Maryland and George Washington.
Following practice, Pittsburgh Sports Now had a chance to catch up with Davis, Griffin and their head coach Patrick Massaroni.
“I’m just taking all this attention in stride and step-by-step and am definitely grateful for the attention that I’m receiving. I’ve put a lot of dedication and hard work into my game and I’m grateful for everything that’s happened,” Davis said.
“I’d say my biggest strength now is my craftiness and ability to control the temp and pace of the game. I’m also able to get to the spots on the court where I want to be and find my open teammates so they get their shots.”
Following the workout, Davis had a chance to say hello and meet Capel and O’Toole.
“I spoke to them afterwards and they said that they like my game a lot and they plan on watching me more soon in Dallas,” he said.
The 14-year old Griffin is a player that will no doubt become a national recruit soon and someone that Pitt wanted to get in on early.
“The Pitt coaches just told me to keep working hard and that they really love my game. Their trying to start a new relationship with me. Coach Capel told me that he knew my dad and I’m pretty sure they have a good relationship,” Griffin said.
“I believe a big part of my game is my ability to come off the screen and get into the seam. I believe that I’m a leader and try to be vocal on the court.”
To get more insight into these two players and also to get an opinion on the future of Pitt basketball recruiting under Capel, I spoke to Stepinac Head Coach Patrick Massoroni.
R.J. Davis: “He’s a true point guard who can score when the team needs him to. The thing that’s going to get RJ to the next level is his ability to facilitate the ball. He can really see the floor and gets all of his teammates better. He’s the coach on the floor, is a 3.8 in the classroom, a great kid and an ambassador for the school. He has the ability to really go and knows when to go for it or make the extra pass.”
A.J. Griffin: “AJ has got a body for the next level already, 6-4, 6-5 of solid muscle. One thing about both these two kids is that the sky is the limit for both of them. He can score the ball from wherever he wants on the court. He can finish at the rim or he can shoot it from behind the 3-point line. Also, AJ can rebound and defend already at a high level. With both of these kids, their love for the game is unbelievable. There’s a reason why all these high profile coaches are in the gym to watch these two kids.”
I asked Massoroni his impression of the new Pitt staff and whether they’d be able to reel in the level of recruit needed to turn around the fortunes of the Pitt program.
“I know Coach O’Toole better than I know Coach Capel but just considering his track record from his time as a head coach and as an assistant at Duke, the message he had for me was so impressive. I believe he hit four or five schools today, that shows someone that’s grinding. His message to me was mindset, culture and you build it the right way and with guys that love the game. He wants guys that can compete with the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Virginia in the ACC. I tell you what, if I had to go with a guy right now for our guys here at Stepinac and for kids across the country, I have no doubt that he’s going to get it done. I think these coaches are ready for the grind and are in it for the long haul. We live in a society where everyone wants instant gratification at every level of sports and while I’m not saying he’s going to instantly turn it around next year, but give him time and what he needs to win, I think he’s going to get it done, I really do. With OToole’s ties to the Northeast and them getting into New York this early, it’s going to be a big positive for Pitt.”