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Gorman: Pitt transfers reflect culture of D-I hoops

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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 10:59 p.m.

Panic accompanied Thursday's announcement that sophomore center Malcolm Gilbert was transferring from Pitt.

After all, Gilbert is the fifth player to leave the Panthers in the past two years and the fourth recruit from the talented Class of 2011.

One recruiting analyst doesn't believe it's time to sound the alarms just yet, noting that 40 percent of players don't make it to their junior year at the school with which they signed.

“Pittsburgh wouldn't be the first team to have that much attrition in one class,” ESPN's Dave Telep said. “We're at the highest transfer rate in the history of college basketball right now. It's happening to almost everybody.”

Telep's take echoes the concerns of NCAA president Mark Emmert, who has called the attrition rate “a significant lack of persistence” that is “really detrimental to kids getting an education.”

Dixon is undaunted about losing Khem Birch (UNLV), John Johnson (Penn State) and Gilbert, who was released to Fairfield, where his brother, Marcus, plays.

“I think it's reflective of that class,” Dixon said Saturday. “There was a real good class before that and a real good class after that. Something's gotta give. There's only so many minutes.

“They weren't in the top 10, let's put it that way. You can read into however you want to; the realistic person is going to see that playing time was a factor.”

Where Birch was Dixon's highest-rated recruit ever, it was based more on his high ceiling than his production. His decision to reclassify and enroll in 2011 caused Jaylen Bond to go to Texas instead.

Gilbert, a 6-foot-11 defensive specialist, was expected to redshirt this season. Johnson left after he fell behind freshman James Robinson. Only swingman Durand Johnson remains at Pitt.

“If you really look at the makeup of that class, two were potential guys and two were career role players,” Telep said. “It's unfortunate for Pittsburgh that four didn't work out. That's not the norm. Usually, three of the players work out as good players for you.

“This is the thing college basketball coaches will tell you: Nobody wants to be losing this many kids.”

Pitt now has two scholarships available for the Class of 2013 but not many high-end options left.

“Wait until somebody gets fired and go after their players,” Telep said. “If I'm Jamie Dixon, I'm scanning the waiver wire.”

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