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13 Local Ties to the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament



Each of the four NCAA Tournament regions will feature players with local ties to Pitt, Duquesne, RMU, and the WPIAL. 

March Madness officially begins Tuesday night as No. 16 seeds Texas A&M-Corpus Christi faces Southeast Missouri State followed by a No. 11 matchup between Pitt and Mississippi State in the First Four. Texas A&M Corpus Christi guard Simeon Fryer formerly played for Community College of Beaver County before becoming an Islander in his final three seasons of eligibility. 

In the East Region, Butler guard Ethan Morton and Quaker Valley guard Adou Thiero represent Purdue and Kentucky, respectively. Morton, a 6-foot-7 junior, started Purdue’s first 29 games before coming off the bench for the final six. He averaged 3 points in an average of 25.5 minutes and is a key defensive player on the No. 1 seed. Morton was named the Pennsylvania Gatorade State Player of the Year and PA Mr. Basketball in 2020 after guiding Butler to the 2020 6A WPIAL Championship.


During his freshman year at Kentucky, Thiero averaged 2.6 points per game in 18 appearances for Kentucky head coach and Moon Township native John Calipari. The former WPIAL 4A Player of the Year averaged 23.3 points and 10,3 rebounds en route to winning the 4A WPIAL Championship. 

In the South Region, Fryer leads a group also including Alabama guard Kai Spears, and West Virginia forwards Tre Mitchell and Pat Suemnick. Spears walked onto No. 1 overall seed Alabama and has not played this season after winning 2022 1A WPIAL and PIAA Championships his senior season at Bishop Canevin High School. Mitchell attended Elizabeth Forward High School his freshman and sophomore seasons before finishing high school in Connecticut. He had stops at UMass and Texas before transferring to WVU – where he has started all but the first two games of the year – averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 33 games. Suemnick played a limited role at Robert Morris – averaging fewer than two and a half points in 16 games – and has scored 27 points in 100 Mountaineer minutes. 

The most players in the tournament hail from the Midwest Region. Pittsburgh native Jalen Hood-Schifino and former Pitt guard Xavier Johnson both play for No. 4 seed Indiana. Hood-Schifino moved to Charlotte in middle school and finished his high school career in Florida. The former Pitt commit was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year after posting 13.5 points and 4 rebounds a game, starting all 24 appearances. Johnson has not played since Dec. 17 with a broken foot in his extra year of eligibility, posting 9.9 points per game.

Duquesne sophomore Sincere Carry prepares for a game vs. VCU on March 3, 2020 in Richmond, Va. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

Kent State guard Sincere Carry is originally from Farrell, Pa, and played his first two seasons at Duquesne, starting all 28 games in 2018-19 and leading the Dukes in assists (5.3 average) the following year. The redshirt senior has started 67 of 68 games at Kent, scoring 17.8 points and dishing out 4.8 assists. Senior guard Chris Payton played at Pitt last season and scored 10 points in 13 total games for the Panthers.

Marcus Carr (5) February 21, 2018 — DAVID HAGUE

Maybe the most notable player formerly at Pitt now succeeding at their final stop is Texas guard Marcus Carr. Carr played his freshman season at Pitt in 2017-18, starting 27 games while leading the team in assists per game (4) and total steals (20). He stopped at Minnesota for two years before arriving in Texas and returning for his super senior season. Carr is averaging 15.9 points and 4.1 assists in 34 games for the Big 12 Tournament Champions and No. 2 seed.

Penn State walk-on guard Dan Conlan is a senior on the Nittany Lions and is the fifth all-time leading scorer at Quaker Valley High School (1,252 points).

The West contains the fewest number of local ties. Northwestern grad forward Tydus Verhoeven previously played for Duquesne as a freshman during the 2017-18 campaign. He played three seasons at UTEP before reaching his final year of eligibility with the Wildcats. Verhoeven started the first nine games before coming off the bench the rest of the way, scoring 81 total points. 

Overall, 13 players hold local ties to Pitt, WVU, RMU, and the WPIAL as March Madness officially begins.

Players by Region:


  • Purdue guard Ethan Morton (Butler)  
  • Kentucky guard Adou Thiero (Quaker Valley) 


  • Alabama guard Kai Spears (Bishop Canevin) 
  • Texas A&M CC guard Simeon Fryer (Community College of Beaver County)
  • WVU forward Pat Suemnick (RMU)
  • WVU forward Tre Mitchell (Elizabeth Forward) 


  • Indiana guard Jalen Hood-Schifino (Pittsburgh native) 
  • Indiana guard Xavier Johnson (Pitt) 
  • Kent State guard Sincere Carry (Farrell HS/Duquesne) 
  • Kent State forward Chris Payton (Pitt) 
  • Texas guard Marcus Carr (Pitt)
  • Penn State guard Dan Conlan (Quaker Valley) 


  • Northwestern forward Tydus Verhoeven (Duquesne)

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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