In Wednesday’s matchup between Pitt and Vanderbilt, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel will be sharing the sideline with a long-time friend, Vanderbilt’s head coach Jerry Stackhouse.
According to Capel, the two, who both grew up in North Carolina, played on the same AAU basketball team when they were kids. Now, at the helm of two power five programs set to face off almost 30 years later, the two remain friends.
“I’m glad he’s not playing,” Capel said, laughing. “I’m glad I’m not looking down and he’s in a different jersey than I’m in, back like we were in high school before we linked up and played AAU together, and then certainly the two years we competed against each other in college.”
Stackhouse took over the Vanderbilt program in April of 2019, and is in the midst of his third season leading the program. Prior to his time there, he spent time coaching in the G-League, starting the Stackhouse Elite AAU program, and serving as an assistant coach for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
“Stack and I go way back, to about ninth grade,” Capel said. “Good friend, really good guy. Obviously was a great player, and I think he has done a really good job in the coaching profession. He’s a guy that I thought was labeled because he was a really good player, and the thing I respect about him is that he showed how serious he was about wanting to coach. He went and started an AAU program, and not just started it, he coached, and he coached really hard. He coached an Adidas team, and traveling team, and did a heck of a job with those guys. He went to the G-League, and he coached, and he won a championship. And to have the opportunity to get a head job in college at Vanderbilt. So I think it shows how serious he is about his craft.”
Stackhouse most famously played an illustrious 18-year NBA career, playing for eight teams, making two All-Star appearances, and reaching the NBA Finals once. In his career, Stackhouse averaged 16.9 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.
“I remember when I did USA Basketball with the national team, he would come out and watch us practice,” said Capel. “The thing that I would be marveled at is he would come out there and here you have this great player, this former NBA all-star, and one of the top shooting guards in the NBA during his time, showing how serious he was. He’d be out there with a notebook, taking notes on what he saw, and studying. So it shows how serious he was about wanting to do this. It wasn’t hey, I’m this NBA player, I should just get these opportunities. No, I’m going to go and coach AAU, I’m going to learn, I’m going to go study overseas teams and how they coach. I’m going to go out to USA Basketball to watch and take notes. So it’s pretty cool to see him down there and to see what he’s doing.”
On Wednesday, the two coaches and friends will meet for the first time as opposing head coaches. Stackhouse’s Commodores come into Pittsburgh with a 3-1 record so far this year, as well as a 23-38 record in his 2+ seasons with the school.
The game is set to tip off at 9 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center, and will be broadcast on ACC Network.