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Adam Zagoria Talks To PSN About Jeff Capel and Pitt Basketball



With his 2019 recruiting class most likely wrapped up, Jeff Capel is onto the Class of 2020 and beyond. The Panthers’ staff spent this past weekend at the Peach Jam AAU Tournament in Atlanta.

Although he’s not recruiting for Duke anymore, that hasn’t stopped Capel from going after the top talent in the country. Although he hasn’t landed that top, blue-chip recruit that he’s been accustomed to in the past, it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.

A program’s culture isn’t changed instantly and the same can be said for developing the kind of relationships it takes to take the top-tier talent. While fan bases want instant results, it must be remembered that Capel is only in his second full year of recruiting at Pitt.

Can and will things change at Pitt in terms of recruiting? Pittsburgh Sports Now had the chance to talk with long-time college basketball recruiting insider Adam Zagoria from to get his thoughts on Pitt’s second year head coach and the challenge that lies ahead of him.

The big question is will Capel be able to have similar success he enjoyed at Duke or will it be a growing and learning process for him?

“I did a story and interviewed him two weeks ago, I think he realizes that nothing that he did at Duke will be able to translate at Pitt,” said Zagoria. “He’s obviously a very well-regarded coach and has a great reputation but I don’t think they’re going to be getting a lot of one-and-done or Zion Williamson-type players like he got at Duke. He told me that he wants to get guys who want to compete, guys who want to play at Pitt, guys who want to win and they’re going to be more two-, three-, four-year, program-type players.”

The selling points at Duke were pretty obvious and while he isn’t afforded those luxuries at Pitt, Zagoria believes he still has plenty to offer in Oakland.

“Look, some of the kids that he’s after like R.J. Davis, D.J. Gordon and Cliff Omoruyi and these other guys that he needs to go after will be tough, physical players who won’t be afraid to get after it, who are competitive and want to win games. Those are the type of guys he’s targeting. He wants players that want to get Pitt back where it was,” said Zagoria. “He pointed out to me that Pitt was a No. 1 seed in 2011, so it wasn’t that long ago that they were a national power and they’ve obviously fallen off since. They just got the kid, Ithiel Horton from Roselle Catholic, that’s a perfect example. He’s a kid that can score and is a good player.

“They’re also going to be competing against a lot of schools. R.J. Davis has a five or six other schools that are really after him, Cliff Omoruyi has a ton of schools after him, DJ has a bunch of schools, so you can be in it for these kids but landing them is a different story.”

Capel went 14-19 in his first year at Pitt and while this job will not be a quick fix, things are headed in the right direction and Zagoria believes Pitt and Capel will be a good match.

“I think he knows what’s involved and has a very clear understanding of the situation,” Zagoria said. “For coaches like that, they want to be able to sell a tradition and tell kids that look Pitt has a great tradition of basketball, we were a No. 1 seed, we were a power house in the Big East and you can win here. But you have to be able to get kids that want to be a part of the turnaround and who want to make Pitt a factor in the ACC, want to compete against the Duke’s and the Carolina’s and the Virginia’s so you have to go out and win some recruiting battles and be able to get those kids.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Richard Johnson
4 years ago

I think the issue is more of selling the University than the selling of Coach Capel. It is going to take some time but I believe he will get there. We did not have Blue Chip recruits in the big East but we won.I believe each year we will compete and get better.This year the depth should be better, we need serious help at the 4 and 5. If everyone comes back improved I see a 20 win season. Shooting has to improve and Brown has to play big and physical.This is year 2 players know what to expect and… Read more »

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