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Meet the Team: Pitt Men’s Basketball Kicks off 2022-23 Season



Pitt Basketball 2022-23 Season Preview

The 2022-23 Pitt basketball season officially began on Monday, as the Panthers hit the court at the Petersen Events Center for their first official practice of the year.

Pitt is now in year five of the Jeff Capel-era, and things have not gone according to plan over his first four. However, this season’s group has heightened expectations and a now-or-never mindset from top to bottom.


John Hugley – F | 6’9″ | 265 LB

John Hugley enters his third season at Pitt coming off a stellar sophomore campaign in which he earned All-ACC honorable mention honors. The 6-foot-9, 265-pound big man was a force in the paint last season, averaging 14.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game with nine double-doubles on the year. With more scoring talent on this year’s team than last, Hugley should have more space to work with and fewer double teams to worry about this season.

Nelly Cummings – G | 6’0″ | 190 LB

Cummings, a Pittsburgh native, enters his first season at Pitt after one season at Bowling Green and three at Colgate. Cummings played more than 32 minutes per game and averaged more than 14 points per contest for Colgate, impressing with his scoring ability, shooting ability, and competitiveness. Last season, he shined for the Raiders all season, especially against high-major opponents. Check out his production in all four of the team’s games against HM opponents last season:

@ NC State – 19 points, 5-for-7 3FG.

@ Syracuse – 18 points, 7 assists, 6-for-13 3FG.

@ Pitt – 17 points, 3 assists.

Vs. Wisconsin (NCAA Tournament) – 20 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds.

Jamarius Burton – G | 6’4″ | 200 LB

Burton is another fifth-year senior who will lead the backcourt along with Cummings and others. The 6-foot-4 guard handled a massive workload last season, playing more than 34 minutes per game and averaging 12.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. Burton is at his best in late-game situations, where his play kicks up to another level. His 88% free-throw percentage led the team, and he also hit perhaps the shot of the year for Pitt when he sank St. John’s with a buzzer-beating floater as time expired at Madison Square Garden.

Dior Johnson – G | 6’3″ | 185 LB

Johnson is Jeff Capel’s prized five-star recruit out of Kingston, NY. He played for a handful of high schools throughout his prep career, and was also committed to Oregon and Syracuse at different points. However, he ended up committing to and signing with Pitt this summer and has now been on campus for several weeks working out with the team. Johnson is a quick, shifty guard who loves the ball in his hands. High-level scorer. Should be an entertaining player for the Panthers, and has a serious chance to break out as one of the top freshman prospects in the ACC.


Blake Hinson – F | 6’7″ | 255 LB

Hinson is a big three/four man with high major division one experience at Ole Miss. In his 60 games in Oxford, Hinson averaged 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He shot 40% from the field, 33% from three and 72% from the free-throw line in his sophomore season. After playing for the Rebels from 2018-20, Hinson transferred to Iowa State. However, he missed that first season due to an illness. He then left the program in October 2021 once current ISU head coach TJ Otzelberger took over the program. Hinson has not played a college game since that 2020 season, and has three years of eligibility remaining for the Panthers. He should play a big role for Pitt inside along with Hugley.

Greg Elliott – G | 6’3″ | 180 LB

Elliott, a Marquette transfer, played four seasons for the Golden Eagles, shooting 41% from three-point range across his career. Elliott hails from Detroit, Michigan, and has scored over 600 points in his college career. Elliott should play a key role for the Panthers this season out on the wing alongside primary ball-handlers Nelly Cummings, Dior Johnson, and Jamarius Burton.


Pitt brought in three freshmen this offseason: Dior Johnson, Guillermo Diaz-Graham, and Jorge Diaz-Graham.

Johnson a former five-star recruit, comes to Pitt with high expectations, confidence, and swagger. The Diaz-Graham twins hail from Canary Islands, Spain and join the Panthers after playing last year at IMG Academy (FL). Guillermo recently competed overseas with the U20 Spain National Team.

Dior Johnson

6-foot-3 guard – No. 41 prospect in the 2022 class (247 Sports).

Guillermo Diaz-Graham

7-foot forward – No. 94 prospect in the 2022 class (On3).

Jorge Diaz-Graham

6-foot-11 forward – No. 81 prospect in the 2022 class (On3).


Nike Sibande – G | 6’4″ | 185 LB

Sibande is entering his fifth season of college hoops after sitting out last season due to a Torn ACL that he suffered in Pitt’s exhibition game. The bouncy guard has scored over 1,500 points in his collegiate career (Miami OH and Pitt) and was recently fully cleared to participate in basketball activities. He should play a major role off the bench for Pitt early on, and very well may work his way into the starting lineup once he has fully healed and gotten used to game speed again.

Nate Santos – W | 6’7″ | 215 LB

Santos enters his second year at Pitt after being thrown into the action early during his freshman campaign last year. Santos appeared in 25 games last season, starting six and averaging 2.8 points per game.

William Jeffress – W | 6’7″ | 205 LB

Jeffress enters his third year with the program after appearing in 31 games (16 starts) as a sophomore. Jeffress, an Erie, PA native, has scored over 140 points in his two seasons with the Panthers.

Fede Federiko – F | 6’11” | 220 LB

Federiko, a Helsinki, Finland native, spent last season playing for Northern Oklahoma College at the JuCo level. He poses an inside threat and will serve as John Hugley’s backup on the interior.


Aidan Fisch

Senior out of Murrysville, PA (Franklin Regional).

KJ Marshall

Junior out of Reading, PA (Trinity Christian Academy/Garden City Community College).

Vason Stevenson

Freshman out of McKees Rocks, PA (Montour HS).


Carlton Carrington

6-foot-4 senior combo guard out of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. Carrington is ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 101 player in the nation by 247 Sports.

Carlton Carrington Pitt basketball recruiting

Marlon Barnes

6-foot-6 senior wing out of Brush High School (Cleveland, OH). Barnes is ranked as a three star and the No. 188 player in the country by 247 Sports’ composite rankings.


Guard – Nelly Cummings

Guard – Dior Johnson

Guard – Jamarius Burton

Forward – Blake Hinson

Center – John Hugley

Preseason Thoughts

It’s now or never for Jeff Capel heading into his fifth season, and after a rough finish to last year, he went out and filled just about every key need this roster had. He started off the offseason strong with addition of Cummings, the hometown kid with four years of experience and a recent NCAA tournament appearance. Dior Johnson has five-star talent but will need to sacrifice some time with the ball in his hands to get all of the vets involved. Hugley established himself as a star last season on the inside and is only going to improve with more talent around him. Burton was the team’s heartbeat and will continue to lead. Sibande is coming off of an injury but looks to be up to speed and is ready to break out in his final run of college hoops. Hinson is a big question mark but has produced at the high-major level. Santos and Jeffress are looking to get over the hump and gain confidence on the wing. The twins are intriguing projects and have played high-level ball in Europe. Will they be ready right away? If anything, this is going to be an entertaining group.

There are many question marks revolving around the Panthers. You have a guy that hasn’t played in two years. You have a freshman guard with five-star talent and a five-star personality that have attracted 500,000 social media followers. You have a lead guard returning from an ACL injury. You have a wealth of experience and diverse skill sets. How will they all gel together?

Let’s find out throughout this 2022-23 college basketball season. Welcome aboard.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Good synopsis … looking forward to watching this team. My expectations aren’t overly high but they should perform better than last season assuming the new guys quickly gel with the others, H2P !

Big Time
Big Time
1 year ago

I’m very excited about this season. Pitt has a lot more talent than in years past. The only question is what will the rotation of players be and how fast will they gel together?

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