PITTSBURGH — Junior guard Ishmael Leggett put on a beautiful, all-around performance in the 89-60 win over Binghamton Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.
Leggett scored 18 points, shooting 6-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the foul line, while grabbing 11 rebounds for his first double-double with the Panthers. He also led the Panthers with five assists and four steals, and tied a team-high with junior center Federiko Federiko in offensive rebounds with four
This is Leggett’s first season with Pitt basketball, as he transferred from Rhode Island after last season. He led URI with 34.5 minutes and 16.4 points per game, respectively, as well as 48 3-pointers made, while also second best with 5.8 rebounds per game and 73 total assists.
Rhode Island did not have a good 2022-23 season, as they finished 9-22 overall and 5-13 in the Atlantic-10, second worst in the conference.
Coming to Pitt, Leggett now plays with a core group of players who made the NCAA Tournament last season. This includes senior forward Blake Hinson, sophomore forwards and twins Jorge and Guillermo Diaz Graham and junior center Federiko Federiko. It also helps to play with talented freshman guards like Carlton Carrington, who had a triple-double in his debut on Monday against North Carolina A&T, as well as Jaland Lowe.
“Still instincts, but it makes it 10 times easier when everyone around you is as good as you,” Leggett said on how he’s playing this season compared to last. “I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off of my performance and I just get out there and I go play. Credit to the guys around me, they make it a lot easier.”
Leggett had three double-doubles last season with points and rebounds. He complimented his front court players for their work on the boards, which he credits to allowing him to rack up rebounds on the stat sheet, along with his good positioning.
“Just being down there,” Leggett said. “The big guys, they do a good job of boxing everybody out, so I think as a guard, it just bounces right there and I grab it. The big guys do a really good job and I just clean it up pretty much.”
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel complimented Leggett on his performance and loved his defensive intensity. He also wants Leggett to play the best way that he knows and not to change his style of play to fit a certain game style.
“I don’t want him to adjust it,” Capel said. “I want him to be aggressive. I want him to be who he is. I think that he understands he has some really good players around him, but I want Ish to be Ish and we want to try to help him continue to get better. I thought he played outstanding tonight, not just the points and the rebounds, but he did a heck of a job defensively. His assignment to start was [Dan] Petcash, Petcash had one field goal. I thought he did a really, really good job there, but I don’t want him to try to change to fit in. We have to understand who he is and we’ll adjust and we’ll fit in around him.”
Leggett is also building the relationship with his teammates to improve on the fast break. Pitt had 22 points on the fast break and forced 12 Binghamton turnovers that led to 16 points as well, demonstrating the great defensive performance from Leggett and the rest of Pitt basketball.
“I think we’re very lethal in transition,” Leggett said. “That’s one of the things we’re trying to do, just get it out, get it in the guards’ hands and just off to the races we go. So it’s definitely something we’re great at.”