Pitt BB Recruiting
Resetting Jeff Capel’s Recruiting Battle in the Paint
It was a tough week in recruiting for Pitt men’s basketball head coach Jeff Capel.
The Panthers lost out on 2019 big-man targets Aidan Igiehon ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (44), Oscar Tshiebwe ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (22) and Anthony Walker ⭐⭐⭐ (142) last week.
The losses of Igiehon, to Louisville and Tshiebwe, to West Virginia, were not particularly unexpected, but Walker was probably considered a Pitt lean before a visit to Miami late in the process apparently changed his mind.
It’s a good time to take a look at where Pitt will move forward at forward. Here’s who is left at the top of Pitt’s 2019 board:
Akok Akok ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (30)
Akok, a 6-10 power forward playing for Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut, put Pitt in his top five in late September, along with UConn, Georgetown, Providence and Syracuse.
The Panthers will get the last visit, as Akok is coming to Pittsburgh this week. He already visited Syracuse, UConn and Georgetown over the last three weekends, but Rivals basketball reporter Corey Evans called the Panthers a “dark horse” and the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections are split between Syracuse and UConn.
Kofi Cockburn ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (31)
Cockburn, a 6-10 center playing for Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, put Pitt in his final eight schools in late September, along with UConn, Florida State, Illinois, LSU, Kansas, St. John’s and Syracuse.
Cockburn was one of the very first out-of-town visits from Capel when he first got the Pitt job, but Capel has yet to secure a return visit from the New York area native. Cockburn has announced he’ll take official visits to UConn and Illinois. He also said he wanted to visit Kentucky, but the Wildcats did not make his final list. So there are visits there to be had, but it’s not clear if Pitt will get one or not. It would appear the Huskies, Illini and Orange are the leaders for his services.
Tre Mitchell ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (83)
Mitchell, an Elizabeth, Pa native and former Elizabeth Forward star, now plays at Woodstock Academy in Connecticut. He’s been heavily recruited by UConn, where he took an official visit already this month and will be going back for an unofficial visit this weekend. He also took an official visit to Notre Dame and is being heavily recruited by Illinois, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Creighton, Xavier, UCLA, Wichita State and a host of other schools.
Mitchell’s mother lives in Connecticut now, so Pitt would not be a return home for the 6-9 center. It seems the Panthers aren’t front and center in his recruiting process.
Qudus Wahab ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (123)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Pitt is battling for Wahab’s services along with a host of other traditional East Coast teams including UConn, Georgetown and Syracuse. In fact, Wahab is taking a visit to UConn this weekend at the same time Mitchell will be there. Virginia Tech rounds out Wahab’s top five.
Wahab, a 6-10 center playing for Flint Hill School in Ashburn, Virginia, also has scheduled an official visit for Pitt Nov. 2 and Syracuse on Nov 10. He was at Virginia Tech for an official visit last weekend and previously visited UConn on Oct. 12. Pitt has made it clear Wahab is a priority, with Capel visiting his school this month.
There are obviously other options for the Panthers, but it seems that these four players, and the connected recruiting battles in between them, will go a long way to determining whether or not Pitt can land a top big man recruit during the early signing period, which opens on Nov. 14.
After that top group, Pitt doesn’t have a ton of offers out, but there would be plenty of time to fix that if Pitt goes 0-fer in the early signing period. Three-star power forwards Karim Coulibaly (No. 219) and Tariq Ingraham (No. 349) currently have Pitt offers.