While a lot of focus has been on how the Pitt basketball program will close out their Class of 2020, Jeff Capel is multi-tasking, analyzing and thinking about future recruiting classes.
With that in mind, Capel extended an offer Wednesday night to one of the top sophomores in the entire country.
Class of 2022 combo guard Kyle Cuffe Jr. (Blair Academy, New Jersey) is a four-star recruit and ranked as one of the top five guards and one of the top 60 sophomores in the country. Last night, Cuffe found out that his latest offer came from Capel and Pitt.
Prior to starting his online class Thursday morning, Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with Cuffe to get his thoughts on the offer and about talking with the head of the Pitt basketball program.
“I found out about the offer from my AAU Coach Williams and he told me that Pitt was about to offer me and that we’re going to get on a 3-way call with Coach Capel,” Cuffe said. “Once he told me that, I was immediately excited because Pitt is an ACC school and that’s one of the best conferences in the entire country. Getting this offer makes me feel like I’m actually proving myself to everyone out there.”
As is the norm when offering a player, Capel likes to do it himself and did so with Cuffe and told him what stood out to him about his game.
“Coach told me that he liked how I compete and that I never back down, that was the main thing that he liked about my game,” Cuffe said. “He said, yeah there’s always going to be athleticism, there’s always going to be skill but the one thing that he really likes about me is that I compete, I’m aggressive and that I always work hard.”
When describing the strengths of his game, Cuffe mentioned his defense and how that leads to him excelling on the offense end. The athletic guard has an ability to effortlessly get to the rim and is really strong transitioning from defense to offense.
The Pitt staff has been in the gym to see Cuffe but this was the first time that the rising star had a chance to speak with Capel and came away very impressed with what he heard.
“The biggest impression that I got from Coach Capel was that he’s an impressive guy and that he’s going to do anything he can to make you feel comfortable and welcome,” Cuffe said. “We talked about the current situation (coronavirus) and he told me about how he’s trying to get all of his players back up there now so that they can build a tighter bond and be together. He wants to build a tighter bond than they had last year and I really liked hearing that.”
With the offer from Pitt, Cuffe also holds offers from Seton Hall, St. John’s, UConn, Iona and a few others. One advantage that he will have as he goes through the recruiting process is his father. Kyle Cuffe Sr., played for the St. John’s basketball program (2001-04) and finished his career averaging 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Kyle tells me that he plans on leaning on his father for advice as he works towards eventually making a college decision.
“It’s been a great benefit so far,” said Cuffe. “There’s times when I want to do my own thing and I feel like I’m right but corrects me. He’s been through the process, he knows what’s going to happen, sometimes he sees things before it happens. The fact that I have him in my corner to guide me is great because it will lead me on a better path.”