On Monday, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel made a splash in the recruiting world by landing the commitment of top-ten-point guard prospect Dior Johnson.
Johnson’s commitment fills the final scholarship spot for the Panthers heading into this season. Below is PSN’s projected starting lineup for the Panthers after Johnson’s commitment.
Nelly Cummings – G
Cummings brings to Pitt a wealth of experience at Colgate and BGSU. The 6-foot guard averaged more than 14 points per game last year, shooting 36% from three-point range on more than 170 attempts from deep. Expect Cummings to run the point at the beginning of the year and distribute, shoot it from deep, and penetrate the lane. The way it looks now, he and Johnson will take turns taking the ball up and playing the one.
Dior Johnson – G
Johnson is a 6-foot-3 guard who has spent time running the point at several stops in his high-school career. He is at his best with the ball in his hands but should be able to complement Cummings by switching off at the point and running sets that get both of them the ball. Although he is just a freshman, his creativity, scoring ability, and five-star talent should be enough for him to crack the starting five come November.
Jamarius Burton – G
Burton is an off-ball guard who played out of position often last year for Pitt due to a lack of depth and talent on the roster. He thrives in the mid-range and has an array of moves when backing down other guards in the post. He’s a calm ball-handler, a knockdown free-throw shooter, and one of the team’s best leaders.
Blake Hinson – F
Hinson is a bit of a question mark due to his inactivity over the last two years. He has not played a game since his sophomore season at Ole Miss back in 2019-20. However, watching his film from that season and looking at his stature — 6-foot-7, 255 pounds (Up from 235 lbs last year at Iowa St.) — there is reason to believe that he will be a physical three/four man for the Panthers. This is a small lineup, but due to his physicality on the wing, he should be able to defend other fours and use his versatile skill set on offense well.
John Hugley – F
Heading into his junior season with the Panthers, Hugley is primed for a massive year with much more help surrounding him this time around. Guards like Cummings, Nike Sibande, and Johnson will draw defenses out and open up room for him in the post, which was rare last year due to Pitt’s lack of creators. Hugley was a monster inside practically any time he had one-on-one coverage on him, and even sometimes when he was facing double teams. The 6-foot-9 post is down to around 265 pounds after being listed at 280 at the start of last season. He will round out the Panthers’ starting lineup and look to lead the team down low.
OFF THE BENCH
Nike Sibande – G
It’s tough to leave Sibande — an explosive veteran guard with over 1,500 points to his name — out of the starting lineup, but it will take some time to see how ready he is after his ACL injury last year. Whether he is in the starting lineup or not, expect Sibande to play a huge role for this team as an off-ball shot creator and a shooter from outside (career-200+ threes). Sibande can switch in and out with virtually any of the three guards in the starting lineup, and they all can shift so that one of Johnson or Cummings is always on the floor running the point.
Greg Elliott – G
Elliott will be a key piece for the Panthers this year off the bench, coming in and playing on the wing. The former Marquette guard averaged a career-high 7 points per game last year, and hit 39% of his three-point attempts.
Jorge Diaz-Graham – F
The 6-foot-11 Spanish stretch forward certainly has a lot of room to fill out his frame and add on muscle, but is said to have tons of talent from the wing. Both brothers have been praised for their shooting ability on the outside.
Guillermo Diaz-Graham – F
Guillermo stands at 7-feet tall and is also a stretch forward. He and his brother will both swap in and out of the three/four positions for Pitt, complementing Hugley’s inside game and drawing taller defenders outside of the Paint.
William Jeffress – W
Jeffress struggled last season on the offensive end, but I’d still expect him to get some minutes backing up Hinson and switching in and out with the twins at the three and four. He will have to show some offensive upside to stay in the rotation, as the Diaz-Graham twins both appear to be threats on the outside at nearly unguardable height for their position.
Nate Santos – W
Santos struggled to crack the rotation towards the end of last season, but showed flashes of hot shooting from beyond the arch early in the year. Pitt has just added so many new guards that can also shoot it, so it will be tough for Santos to earn time this season.
Fede Federiko and Cashius McNeilly round out the Panthers’ scholarship players. Both JuCo prospects have a shot at earning minutes this season, but it is not likely that they play a regular role for Pitt. Federiko has tremendous height and length from the forward position, and McNeilly will have to shoot the lights out to earn time on the wing.