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Pitt basketball notebook: Transfer Zeigler fills new role

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 6:24 p.m.
Pitt men's basketball player Trey Zeigler participates in a impromptu dunk contest with two of teamates Wednesday October 3, 2012, at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland for a group of kids from Falk School in Oakland at an event put on by the United Way of Allegheny County. (James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Pitt men's basketball player Chris Jones, left, plays basketball with Tyler from the Falk School on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at Petersen Events Center in Oakland (James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

When Trey Zeigler was in fourth grade at McKnight Elementary School, little did he know he would grow into someone Pitt fans have long coveted: a 6-foot-5 shooting guard.

Zeigler, a transfer from Central Michigan and the son of a former Pitt assistant, is a versatile, athletic junior and the tallest two-guard in coach Jamie Dixon's 10 seasons.

“We like that,” Dixon said Wednesday at Petersen Events Center as part of the fitUnited children's health initiative. “We were looking to go more toward that area (of bigger guards). It's something that we hoped to do. … I hope we will get better defense out of the longer guys.”

Pitt, which starts practice Oct. 12, also welcomes a highly regarded recruiting class led by five-star center Steven Adams and point guard James Robinson.

Zeigler is the frontrunner to replace Ashton Gibbs; he provides a different dynamic than the 6-foot-2 former all-Big East selection. The first player in Central Michigan history to reach 1,000 points as a sophomore, Zeigler has impressed the Pitt staff during the new, NCAA-permitted two-hour-per-week workouts. He transferred after his father, Ernie, was fired as head coach.

“Guys like Brad Wanamaker played the two (guard) and were not only able to score but make plays for other guys, and that's something I think I can do,” Zeigler said. “Hopefully, that's the kind of dimension I bring to the team.”

Zeigler attended the North Allegheny school district as a fourth- and fifth-grader when his father was part of Ben Howland's staff in 2001-03. The former top-30 recruit won't attract as much attention as he did at the MAC school.

“I'm going to be a lot more open here,” he said. “I have to make sure I'm ready to knock down open shots.”

Maryland, Syracuse ahead

Pitt will play home-and-home games against Maryland and Syracuse each season as part of its 18-game schedule in the ACC, the league announced. The Panthers, who join the ACC in 2013-14, will play every other conference team once each season.

Injury updates

Junior forward J.J. Moore (foot) is practicing at 100 percent after April surgery. The 6-foot-6 Moore, the team's Most Improved Player last season, averaged 11.8 points in the Panthers' final 13 games.

“I think his conditioning has come along nicely,” Dixon said. “I feel good about him. We kept him out way beyond where you normally would.”

Senior point guard Tray Woodall (sports hernia) has taken part in every team workout but has sat out some pick-up games. Sophomore guard Cameron Wright (hamstring) is the only Panther who has missed any workouts.

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

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