PITTSBURGH — Pitt will not have the services of power forward Kene Chukwuka at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, and he could miss “significant” time, head coach Jeff Capel told Pittsburgh Sports Now.
Chukwuka, who had hip surgery in March after being bothered by it to varying degrees throughout the 2018-19 seasons, will not be ready for the team’s preseason trip to Italy in August, and will miss at least some of the season, which how much still yet to be determined.
“It’s probably going to be a while,” Capel said. “He’s going to miss time, and probably significant time, from the season. It was a major surgery. He’s responded well, but it’s a long recovery. We don’t have an exact time table, but he’s going to miss some of the season, there’s no question.”
The 6-foot-9 senior played in 32 games for the Panthers last season, starting 17 of them. He averaged 3.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, both up from his sophomore season in 2017-18, which was his first with the Panthers after playing at the junior college level.
Chukwuka essentially rotated with Terrell Brown as Pitt played four guards and one forward for almost the entire season, but as the year went on, his hip became more troublesome. He didn’t play at all in Pitt’s season-ending loss to Syracuse in the ACC Tournament.
“When I took the job, it was bothering him,” Capel explained. “We tried to do some things. Toward the end of the year, that was the problem.”
Pitt has already added one forward, 6-foot-8 Scotland (Pa.) Campus Sports big man Karim Coulibaly, and Capel is still looking to make more additions to his four-player recruiting class, whether that comes from more freshmen, junior college or graduate transfers.