After losing five players to the transfer portal and one to the pros, Jeff Capel reloaded his squad this offseason, adding four talented transfers and one high school prospect.
“It’s been great,” Capel said on Thursday. “It’s great to be able to not be restricted with things that we can do. Our whole team is here now. They all got here on Monday, the last person got here on Monday. We had two guys getting here Sunday and Monday so we have everyone here. We’ll start with our team building and all of that stuff today with a meeting a little bit later and things like that. Some of the guys were here for the first session of summer school. Some guys were here, some guys were in and out, because everything is still online right now, but it’s been great. It’s been great to be able to have them up at the office to talk, to be on the court with them, the guys that have been here, to watch them play, to watch their camaraderie, to do all of those things. It’s been really really good, it’s exciting.”
Capel landed the following players this offseason:
Jamarius Burton, a tough guard with experience at Texas Tech as well as Wichita State. Dan Oladapo, a strong forward from Oakland University who was one of the leading offensive rebounders in the nation. Chris Payton, one of the top junior college forwards in the country, out of Indian Hills CC. Mo Gueye, a long, lanky, defensive expert with a versatile offensive skill set, from Stony Brook. And last but not least, Nate Santos, a high-IQ, shot-making wing who will develop under Capel for years to come.
“It’s been good,” Capel said. “We have five of them total, and three of them here for the first session of summer school and the last two just got here. It’s been good to get to know them, to work with them, and to have them work with Garry [Christopher], our coach that handles strength and conditioning. It’s been good. It’s a really exciting time.”
After the eligibility of Burton was granted, Pitt will now head into the season knowing all players on the roster are eligible, something it struggled with last season, due to the NCAA’s handling of Nike Sibande’s eligibility waiver. Finally, with some sort of certainty, Capel is eager to get in the gym and work with his guys.
“It’s hard to tell because we’ve all just gotten here, but I like the spirit of them so far,” Capel said about his new-look Panthers. “It’s similar to how I felt at the end of the year last year. They seem to have really bonded and get along and are genuinely excited for each other, so I am anxious to work with them. I am anxious to get to know them. I am anxious to see who we are right now and to try to anticipate who we can become by November and hopefully we can keep getting better.”