Connect with us
PSN is sponsored by Beaver County Auto

Opinion

Michalowski: Jeff Capel is All In

Published

on

Jeff Capel had a job to do this offseason.

“We have to get better players,” he said after the team’s season-ending loss to Boston College. “I mean, that’s the reality of it. It’s nothing against — it’s not anything personal. We have to continue to add better players.”

After four seasons of despair to start his Pitt head coaching career, Capel knew he had a lot of work to do with his roster that finished last season 11-21 overall. Obviously, there were injuries and off-the-court issues that Capel’s team endured that were out of his control. But there are no valid excuses for 11-21 in year four without a single winning season at a program with rich hoops history like Pitt. None.

He knew that. He took a step back, examined what he had, and realized that he had to do everything he could to turn this program around in one offseason.

It all started with the departures. Within ten days of the last game of Pitt’s season, Noah Collier, Chris Payton, and Onye Ezeakudo entered the transfer portal. All three players served as reserves on last year’s team, and were now heading off to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Three spots had opened up. Then came another wave the next week, as Dan Oladapo and Ithiel Horton entered the portal. Five spots were now open. Then came Max Amadasun, another reserve, and shortly after, Femi Odukale, a starting guard.

With Mo Gueye running out of eligibility too, Capel had eight new scholarships to work with this offseason. He got off to a nice start with the addition of Nelly Cummings, adding the Pittsburgh native on the same day that Odukale left. Cummings had entered the portal shortly after being eliminated from the NCAA Tournament with Colgate. After visiting Pitt and hearing from a long list of other D1’s, he decided to commit to the Panthers. A solid place to start for Capel, who had seven more scholarships to award.

Then came two commitments in one week: Blake Hinson and Fede Federiko. Hinson is a question mark because of his inactivity in the past two seasons. Federiko because he last played at the junior college level, and his production there did not scream high-major starter. However, despite the questions around the two, both have years of experience past high school, and multiple years of eligibility remaining. Hinson has produced at the high-major level. Federiko has upside with his length and athleticism. At this point, momentum was swinging in the right direction for Capel.

Next came two commitments in one minute. Both Jorge and Guillermo Diaz-Graham, prospects in the 2022 class, committed to Pitt at the same time in early May. Scouts such as Adam Finkelstein (247 Sports) have raved about the twins’ early developments since arriving in the U.S., and both twins were recently selected to compete for the 12-man U20 Spanish national team (FIBA). It is safe to say that the twins provide skills and potential that has not been seen at Pitt in Capel’s tenure.

After that, two more commitments rolled in for Capel in May with the additions of Greg Elliott, a veteran guard out of Marquette, and Cashius McNeilly, a sharpshooting junior college prospect. Elliott provides outside shooting and more experience in the veteran-loaded back court, and McNeilly, who still has not really shown off his talents much at the college level, has shown off a smooth stroke from three-point range in the JuCo ranks as well.

And on Monday, the recruiting journey reached its peak with the commitment of Dior Johnson, a four-star guard who is ranked within the top 40 in the nation in the class of 2022. Less than one year ago, Johnson was rated as a top ten prospect in the class. After committing and de-committing from both Syracuse and Oregon over the past few years, he finally decided on Pitt. He brings a boatload of talent in right away, on top of the bright lights that come with him and his 500,000+ fans on social media. Johnson is a unique prospect. A celebrity within the game. An untold story. But the one thing that everyone knows about Johnson is that he has legitimate talent and untapped potential.

Dior Johnson Becomes Jeff Capel’s Highest-Ranked Recruit at Pitt

So there you have it. Capel is all in. He has enough talent on this overhauled roster to win. He has enough veterans, enough experience to win. He has the big names. He kept John Hugley. He’s getting Nike Sibande back. He has his leader in Jamarius Burton. He has all of the new pieces he needs. The shooters. The athletes. He has stacked all of his chips up heading into this make-or-break season, and he is ready to play his hand.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
14 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
14 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
TJ
TJ
15 days ago

Lots of interesting pieces … on paper, looks much better than last year. My concern is getting everyone to gel very quickly. Maybe this group is too eclectic of a group of guys. He will earn his money this year. H2P !

Michael
Michael
15 days ago
Reply to  TJ

LOTS of interesting pieces. I figure the twins will be like Steven Adams and need a little bit of time to adjust- but Adams was solid and was our best player by the end of the year. I am very interested to see how they play alongside Hugley. We may have one of the best frontcourts in the country by the time the tournament comes around. And now with Sibande, Burton, and Johnson in the backcourt… I really like the look of this team. I still think we need Jeffress to be the stud I think he can be. I’m… Read more »

Pittband
Pittband
15 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Adam’s wasn’t an asset until the final 5 games of his only season. Hope the twins mature more quickly.

Pitt guy
Pitt guy
15 days ago

Are any of you people who constantly tear down the program and Jeff Capel going to give any type of Kudos for the recruiting job Capel did this off season or just continue to be haters who spend all day in moms basement? ROB !

Krackerjack Kid
Krackerjack Kid
15 days ago
Reply to  Pitt guy

In four years the guy hasn’t done much. Until proven otherwise, why applaud him? Recruiting doesn’t matter when players get arrested or transfer.

Of course he’s “all in”, Pitt can’t buy him out.

Nobody want to hate him, but between his big mouth and inability to win, he’s been his own worst enemy.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
15 days ago
Reply to  Pitt guy

“All day in mom’s basement “? Grow up Loser. Let’s see how this plays out. He’s won 51 games in 4 years . He hasn’t earned a lot of goodwill to anyone who looks at it objectively. “Pitt guy”? Grow a set- use your own name. I don’t hide behind nicknames when I express my opinion.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
14 days ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

51-69. The only person “tearing down the program” is Capel. And he’s stolen roughly $12 million while doing it.

lorin Flickinger
lorin Flickinger
15 days ago

Expecting different results by not changing anything will end like Mr.Capels previous years.
This new ‘roster’ of lower tier ‘transfers’ will end as badly as his previous years..

Eric payne
Eric payne
15 days ago

Did not see this one coming. Just from his highlights, this guy is a STUD. Can’t help but dream of what it would be like in a year playing with the twins. H2P.

TMG
TMG
15 days ago

It’s a given that Heather is going to hold onto to Coach JC. So the HC and his staff of assistant Coaches job Getting these players gel to win and to stay together after a yr. Would be a first breath of fresh air. Big jump from the paper to the floor.
H2P👍. Do It!

Pitt guy
Pitt guy
15 days ago

Rob your a joke and a total embarrassment to your own self , get a job get a life get a new hobby! Everyone is tired of your remarks ….. Did you not get enough toys to play with when you were younger …. Your a total joke …… go away

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
14 days ago
Reply to  Pitt guy

If you’re tired of my remarks just scroll by. Loser fanboy. And you’re (notice the proper grammar) clearly a loser who hides behind pseudonyms while talking trash. In other words a cowardly punk

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
14 days ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

This isn’t your site or your message board so I’ll post any opinion I please. “Everyone is tired” grow up punk get out of middle school.

Pittband
Pittband
15 days ago

This isn’t the Eastern Eight or even the Big East, this is the thresher of all college leagues, the ACC. Duke and UNC showed nothing special until the NCAA tournament. .500 in league will an accomplishment. Quit dreaming. We’ve reached the pinnacle of college basketball and there isn’t an easy night once we get into league play.

March Madness

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

 
Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend