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Green Tree league provides Pitt preview of incoming stars

| Saturday, June 16, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
Christopher Horner
Highly touted Pitt recruit Steven Adams (right) will play with fellow freshman James Robinson, transfer Trey Zeigler and returning co-MVP Lamar Patterson in the Green Tree summer league. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)

New Pitt shooting guard Trey Zeigler liked what he saw on his team's Green Tree summer league roster.

There was the star of Pitt's recruiting class, 6-foot-11 New Zealand center Steven Adams, along with incoming top-50 point guard James Robinson and junior small forward Lamar Patterson, the Panthers' fast-rising co-MVP from last season.

“Getting to play on the same team — me, Steve, James and Lamar — is great,” Zeigler said. “We're four guys who will possibly be in the rotation, and we can learn from each other.”

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was more pragmatic.

“It's probably more about making sure (the freshmen) are getting rides (to Green Tree),” he deadpanned.

For sure, Pitt fans can catch a glimpse of the future starting Monday night when the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am Summer League begins at 7 p.m. at Greentree SportsPlex.

The seven-team league, which plays Monday and Wednesday nights through mid-July, includes players from Pitt, West Virginia, Duquesne, Robert Morris and Youngstown State, as well as notable alumni from local schools.

The highlight will be Adams, a consensus top-10 recruit from Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep by way of New Zealand. Adams' team, PGT Trucking, will open the summer league against a team led by Pitt senior center Dante Taylor in what promises to be a standing-room-only event.

Robinson, ESPN.com's No. 4-rated point guard in the Class of 2012, will miss the first week. He is competing for Team USA in the 2012 FIBA Americas Under-18 championship next week in Brazil.

Pitt's other recruit in the four-man Class of 2012, New Jersey shooting guard Chris Jones, is summer league teammates with Panthers junior center/forward Talib Zanna and sophomore guard John Johnson.

Zeigler, a former top-30 recruit who was cleared to play this season after transferring from Central Michigan, is looking forward to the competition.

The Panthers, coming off a 22-17 season in which its 11-year NCAA Tournament streak ended, are limited to pick-up games, plus the NCAA-maximum two hours of practice a week over an eight-week period in the summer.

“We're usually competing against each other every day,” Zeigler said. “Now we can work on playing together and our chemistry.”

Green Tree veteran Lance Jeter, who starred at Beaver Falls and Nebraska, said the action should benefit the Pitt newcomers.

“Coming in as freshman, it will help them a lot and get their confidence up,” Jeter said. “When I first started playing, I was going against Brad Wanamaker and DeJuan Blair. You see them, and you see how college basketball is.”

John Grupp is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jgrupp@tribweb.com or 412-320-7930.

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