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Gorman: Dixon doesn't think Pitt has a problem

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Sunday, April 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Pitt basketball fans are preparing to panic now that Steven Adams declared for the NBA Draft and the Panthers are left with only one returning player taller than 6-foot-6.

Down on Jamie Dixon?

Don't be.

The Pitt coach was unflappable in addressing Adams' decision and the transfer of Trey Zeigler, which reduced the roster to six.

“We've been out recruiting,” Dixon said. “We're going to find someone. We always do. We've found a couple guys in the summer that have been great additions for us over the years. That's what we've got to do.”

It's easy to forget that Dixon has shown some past recruiting creativity.

Dixon discovered a July gem in Ontario Lett, who hadn't played the previous junior-college season.

And one of Dixon's first orders upon succeeding Ben Howland in 2003 was to salvage the recruiting class.

Not only did Dixon keep Chris Taft in the fold but when center Walter Waters wanted a release from his scholarship, Dixon found a late August replacement in Ohio guard Antonio Graves.

The departures of Adams and Malcolm Gilbert, who transferred to Fairfield, have left Pitt in a predicament in the post. Only 6-9 power forward Talib Zanna has any experience. The Panthers have signed 6-8 Mike Young, a McKeesport native playing at St. Benedict's Prep, but desperately need to add more presence in the paint.

Dixon is underappreciated as a recruiter, with a keen eye for untapped talent and strong work ethic.

Don't forget that he has signed five-star frontcourt players in three of his past four classes, even if Dante Taylor didn't live up to his McDonald's All-America billing, Khem Birch transferred midway through his freshman year and Adams went pro after one season.

If Pitt has a problem, it's with retention. Only three of seven players remain from the past two recruiting classes, and at least one player has flamed out in every class since 2006.

But Dixon has four scholarships with which to rebuild his roster. And it's worth noting that Pitt won 25 games in each of the seasons after losing Taft and DeJuan Blair to NBA early entry.

“It's a different climate out there with recruiting,” Dixon said. “There's more guys available in the spring because of these new rules that they've put into place.”

The Pitt coach likes the idea of having scholarships in the spring, so don't judge Dixon until he's done.

 

 

 
 


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