Pitt senior Ryan Luther will graduate and transfer to Arizona, as first reported by WildcatAuthority.com. Luther is the second Pitt player to transfer following the firing of head coach Kevin Stallings and the hiring of Duke assistant Jeff Capel.
Luther, 22, is a 6-foot-9 power forward, a Gibsonia native and alumnus of Hampton High School. He averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds in what should have been his senior season in 2017-18.
But he only played 10 games thanks to a stress reaction in his right foot. Luther sat out the remainder of the season and qualified for a medical hardship waiver in order to preserve his final season of eligibility. He’ll have one season to play with the Wildcats.
Luther was also injured in 2016-17, when he had a stress fracture in the same foot. Luther averaged 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in his junior season.
The big forward had a knack for shooting from the outside, as evidenced by his 41.5 career 3-point field goal shooting percentage. But the injuries in consecutive seasons largely prevented him from making mark at the ACC level.
Still, Luther’s loss was seen as a big blow toward’s Pitt chances of escaping with a couple victories in an otherwise lost season in 2017-18.
“Ryan and Malik Ellison will significantly impact this team in a very positive way and impact it from an experience standpoint,” Stallings said in January. “They both have multiple years of high-level Division one experience and so we feel like we’ve got a couple guys right here that will impact our team greatly and then obviously, with the maturation of these guys, we think we could be significantly better (in 2018-19). I think the players feel that. The coaches certainly feel that.”
Luther hasn’t commented publicly since before his injury, other than a statement on Twitter after Stallings’ firing.
“I believe I speak for our team by saying that Coach treated us extremely well and not only did what was best for the team but also what was best for each one of us,” he wrote. “Regardless of the circumstances, Coach always stood up for us as players and took responsibility for things that were often times out of his control. The relationships that our entire team and I have formed with his staff are truly special and something I will always be thankful for.”
Luther, who was originally recruited by Jamie Dixon, was one of two players that stuck around through an offseason roster purge following Stallings’ first season that saw Chrisshawn Clark, Cameron Johnson, Rozelle Nix, Corey Manigault and Damon Wilson all transfer while Justice Kithcart was dismissed from the team.
Luther told Pittsburgh Sports Now in July of 2017 that he never considered transferring, despite the overhaul of the roster with one season of eligibility remaining.
“When I chose to come here to Pitt, it was for a lot of reasons, it wasn’t just one,” he said. “I made a commitment and I’m sticking to it. … It’s my last go around. Especially being from here. I wanted to leave it all out there and have no regrets.”
Luther told Evan Daniels of 247Sports that his relationship with Arizona head coach Sean Miller was the deciding factor in his transfer. Miller had been in contention for the Pitt coaching job.
“I think I have a good relationship with Coach Miller,” Luther said. “He came out and saw me and on the visit I got to know him better and the staff. Hanging with the players, I thought they were great guys. I got a good feel for the guys and I enjoyed being with them. I got a long with them. They said (Miller) really wants me.
“It’s going to be my fifth year and hopefully I can bring experience and leadership and skill and versatility at the four position. They have a great core of guys. I think it was a good match.”
Luther did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
He is the second Pitt player to leave the program, following shooting guard Parker Stewart, who has also announced that he is transferring, but he has not decided on a destination. He’s been in touch with Maryland, Kansas State, Oregon and Nevada, according to 247 Sports.
Four Pitt players have publicly announce that they will return to the team: guards Khameron Davis and Jared Wilson-Frame and forwards Terrell Brown and Shamiel Stevenson. Guard Samson George and forward Peace Ilegomah have not made public comments one way or another, but are believed to wish to stay. Capel said after his introductory press conference that any player that wanted to stay at Pitt would be able to.
Point guard Marcus Carr, shooting guard Malik Ellison and forward Kene Chukwuka have all requested their release from the school and have not committed to either leaving or returning.
Capel said Saturday on his appearance on the 93.7 The Fan broadcast of the Pitt Blue-Gold Football game that he needed decisions from those players “yesterday” in order to begin recruiting.
Capel started recruiting in earnest this week. He also finished filling out his staff, with College of Charleston assistant coach Milan Brown joining California associate head coach Tim O’Toole and former Appalachian State head coach and ESPN analyst Jason Capel.