What’s Next for Pitt Basketball
The college basketball season officially ended for the Pitt Panthers on Sunday, following their 84-73 loss to No. 3 Xavier.
Disappointment always follows a loss but when you look at the big picture, the only way to evaluate this season is to call it a success.
The Panthers finished the season with a record of 24-12, which was their best mark since 2013-14. They were able to go 14-6 in the ACC and also pick up two NCAA Tournament wins.
Maybe the biggest accomplishment is that this group of players were able to re-ignite a fan base that had very little interest in Pitt basketball for the past seven seasons.
The key and maybe the bigger task for Jeff Capel is to see whether or not this winning can be sustained, which will truly show whether or not Pitt basketball is back.
Winning in a particular season is one thing, but being able to sustain that success in consecutive seasons to show the program is back is entirely another.
Pitt will no doubt be returning some solid pieces for the 2023-24 season, but they’ll also be losing a bunch of important pieces to their success.
Not only were Nelly Cummings, Jamarius Burton, Nike Sibande and Greg Elliott productive players on the court, but they were also the veteran leaders and the glue of the team. That’s very important and something that will no doubt need to be replaced.
In terms of on the court production, Pitt is losing a ton:
Nelly Cummings: 1,500+ points, 380+ assists and a member of 3 NCAA tournament teams.
Greg Elliott: 1,000+ points, 380+ rebounds, 170+ 3 pointers.
Nike Sibande: 1,800+ points, 670+ rebounds.
Jamarius Burton: 1,500+ points, 470+ assists.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Trying to replace those four players’ production will be difficult, but Pitt not only has a few talented players returning but their Class of 2023 has a couple of players that could contribute immediately.
As things stand today, here’s a look at the players that are scheduled to return next season for Pitt. In the transfer portal era, it’s always necessary to say ‘players that are scheduled to return’ because you never know what will happen between now and the start of practice in the fall.
Pitt’s 2023-24 Roster
Guillermo Diaz-Graham, F
Jorge Diaz-Graham, F
Blake Hinson, F
Federiko Federiko, C
Will Jeffress, F
Dior Johnson, G
Nate Santos, G
Jaland Lowe, G
Carlton Carrington, G
Marlon Barnes, F
With the recent departure of John Hugley, Pitt currently has three scholarships available for next season. Looking at the current roster and what positions the coaching staff could be looking to recruit in the transfer portal, I’d guess that a big man that can rebound and defend will be important. After that, Pitt should be looking to refill the roster with a 3-point shooter or two.
Two other important off-season developments will be for the strength staff to work with the Diaz-Graham twins and Federiko to add weight and strength to their frame. If that can be accomplished and considering the talent they already possess, you’re potentially looking at three dominant players. Arguably the biggest off-season mission is to prepare Dior Johnson both physically and mentally to be ready to lead this squad. Pitt success this season was predicated mostly on the production and leadership of the four veterans: Cummings, Burton, Sibande and Elliott. Next season, they’ll need the young talent to step up and that will start with Johnson. The talent is obviously there but will he be able to translate that to the court and more importantly, can he be someone that Capel and the rest of the team relies on?
Great season .. thanks to all for the fond memories and best wishes in the future.
As you said, we are losing a ton and going from one of the oldest teams (age and experience) to one of the youngest. Some folks are discounting this too much.
Until I see what we get from the portal, I’ve got to assume a drop-off from this year.
Other ACC teams have some big losses as well but most are not trying to prove this season wasn’t a fluke.
Will be interesting to watch it play out. H2P !
Beefing up Fede Fede and the twins are the biggest thing IMO. Rebounding was this teams Achilles heal. Too many offensive rebounds given up and second chance points by the opposing teams. I feel like everytime the PITT shot the ball the whole team started backpedaling to play defense. No one was ever under the basket or near it when someone took a mid range jumper or three pointer. Regardless, this team was awesome this year and it was a blast watching them.
They’re going to need a PG like Cummings or Burton to create shots. I think that’s the biggest question mark heading into next year.
I think what they need to find more than anything in the portal is a big man that can provide offense in the paint.While Fede is good defensively.He’s not that good from the mid range,and some who has some post moves as well.That’s why losing Hugley is big.The twins are promising but need strength and to put on weight.And another 3 point shooter or two would be ideal
This team has a lot of returning talent besides the towns and Frederiko. Will Jeffries is a 4 Star forward that is getting back into playing condition after sustaining a leg injury. He will definitely help as a rebounder and scorer. Dior Johnson is every bit as talented as Juda Mintz. The freshman class is rated in the top 20 recruiting classes in the country. Looking forward to the future with this team.
“The towns”. “Jeffries”. “Juda”. Stupidity that never fails to disappoint.
Speaking of stupidity, I laugh every time I think of you trying to get Coach Capel fired. You think nobody will remember, but I will remind them. Since you are so hung up on spelling,why don’t you become a teacher.
Wow not only a moron but delusional. I was never under the impression that my opinion on a random message board carried any weight. Maybe you think yours does. I laughed my ass off when you posted that love note to Cummings. Like he was going to read it or care. My gosh you’re a clown. Engaging you is basically punching down.