Ithiel Horton’s decision to transfer from Pitt raised many eyebrows and got some to question his loyalty to Pitt following their backing of him following an off-season arrest.
Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees with the take that Horton wasn’t loyal to Jeff Capel and Pitt and as is normally the case, there are two sides to every story.
Horton’s father, Kevin Horton reached out to Pittsburgh Sports Now in an attempt to set the record straight and to give his family’s account of everything that’s gone on the past year leading up to Ithiel’s decision to transfer.
“My son is graduating and has been there for three seasons, so this is a natural break,” Horton said. “He has two seasons of eligibility and wants a clean start.” …
”He’s been there three years and played there for two. Jeff Capel has been there for four and I’ll give him a pass for the first year but since then, what do you see? It’s the same each year. After a while, it becomes who you are.”
Horton said Pitt’s struggles haven’t all been about talent and are more reflective of the in-game coaching and system.
”Defensively, they try and play the Syracuse zone and it’s a disaster,” Horton said. “The other teams slice through it because it’s not proper. Their offense is such a stagnated offense. The other team knows it so well, they overplay all the guys and clog up the offense so you can’t score. The in-game coaching is the issue. Pitt has all the makings of a good program: the gym, the environment, I love it, the problem is between the lines.”
Capel’s comments at his final press conference of the season, when he said the team needs to recruit better players, also seemed to strike a nerve.
”When he said I need to recruit better players, that tells my son you’re not good enough,” said Horton. “Instead, he should say this is all my fault and I’m going to do better. Whether the issue is good enough players or running a proper offense, they don’t do what I tell them to do in practice, you need to own it and have some self responsibility.”
Horton was the fourth Pitt player this season to enter the transfer portal, and in addition to the on-court issues, Horton said that he doesn’t think Capel has built the kind of lasting relationships with the players that would keep them through tough times.
“From what I gathered and from what I see, I don’t see the relationships, I don’t see the body language and the relationship between the players and the coaches like I see with someone like Tom Izzo,” said Horton. “They love Tom Izzo. He yells and screams, but those players love that guy, they love him to death. When kids like you and love you, they will be loyal, they will stay, they don’t want to leave.”
Horton also wanted to set the record straight about the legal issue that caused his son to miss the first half of the season.
”This whole thing was over his car being towed, it had nothing to do with anything else,” Horton said. “We have video and you can see how sober he was and you can see what really caused the cops to react. His car was getting towed and he was telling the guys, I’ll give you the money to drop it here and some tow trucks do that. But they said, No, No, we have to take it in. … It was all over, the tow guy was leaving and (Ithiel) said something to the woman cop that they didn’t like. That was the problem and trust me, my son didn’t swing at anyone. I got the video for all of this.” …
“My son wouldn’t hit a fly. The reason why Coach Capel and Heather Lyke stood by him through the whole thing is because they know who he is. They know his character, they know the type of kid he is. I raised that kid and he’s always been that way. I’ve never had any problems in school, nothing of that nature. I know how he is and we have video of what actually happened. Of course, being an African-American man, I know what happened. To be honest, he said something that they didn’t like and that’s what happened. The resisting, the assaulting, him being intoxicated, none of that was true.”