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Pitt Basketball

After Another Loss, Where Will Jeff Capel Turn on the Recruiting Trail?



Jeff Capel’s search for a Class of 2019 big man to complement the three freshmen that he landed in the 2018 recruiting class hit yet another snag on Wednesday, when four-star Flint Hill School center Qudus Wahab picked Georgetown over the Panthers.

It was the latest in a series of efforts where Capel seemingly got pretty close to landing a big-name recruit, only to fall short at the last moment.

Pitt heavily involved with Akok Akok (UConn), Anthony Walker (Miami), Tyrese Samuel (Seton Hall), Oscar Tschiebwe (West Virginia) and Kofi Cockburn (Illinois), only to fall short every time.
Pitt also missed out on Florida transfer Chase Johnson, who picked Dayton after visiting Pitt.

Where do the Panthers turn from here?

🏀Four-star 6-foot-6 small forward Christian Brown is Pitt’s next biggest target. Brown, a teammate of Cockburn’s at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, is the consensus No. 61 player in the country and Pitt is again battling NC State, Illinois for his services, along with Clemson and Georgia.

🏀Former Elizabeth Forward big man and consensus No. 79 player in the country Tre Mitchell is 6-foot-9, and while the hometown Panthers are at least at the periphery of his recruitment, it seems that Notre Dame is in the driver’s seat there. Mitchell also has interest from UConn, Illinois, Iowa State, Louisville and Xavier.

🏀Another small forward, four-star Rochester, New York small forward Gerald Drumgoole, is also being heavily recruited by Pitt. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing hasn’t received a Pitt offer yet, but he is planning on taking an official visit with the Panthers this week, and an offer is seemingly in the cards then. He’s also visited Maryland, Minnesota and South Carolina. He is the consensus No. 105 player in the country and also plays tight end at Lu Lumiere School in Indiana.

🏀Karim Coulibaly, a Mali native playing at Scotland Performance Institute near Shippensburg, Pa., is a 6-foot-8 three-star forward that Pitt has been involved with for quite some time, having offered him way back in April, just after Capel took the reins. Coulibaly, a native of Mali, has narrowed his list to Pitt and St. Joseph’s.

That’s it as far as current high school seniors that Pitt is actively recruiting, but it isn’t the end of the road for this class. Two-thirds of the freshmen that Capel brought in for 2018 were reclassifications, and there are opportunities for some current juniors to come out early.

Chiefly among them are twins Justin and Julian Champagnie from Brooklyn, New York. The twins check in at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds and Justin is the No. 105 player in the Class of 2020. Academically, they are able to reclassify and Pitt has broached the subject of doing so, but as of right now, they’re staying with 2020.

Pitt will also continue to ply the transfer market, and it seems like it’s particularly likely Pitt will take that route at forward. As the players have slipped through Capel’s grasp, he hasn’t been moving down the list of big men, offering lower and lower ranked players. Instead, he’s turned his attention to small forwards like Brown and Drumgoole. With Pitt still desperately in need for big men, it’s likely that any true centers that come on board will come via transfer.

It’s been a significant series of losses and it appears, at least at this moment, that Pitt won’t get the high-level big man that Capel has been searching for. But there are still plenty of talented players to be had and plenty of time to go before signing day in April.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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