BIG EAST RECRUITING UPDATE: PITTSBURGH
August 25, 2006
VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Bradley Wanamaker, (G) ROman Catholic HS in Philadelphia
Projected 2007-2008 Roster:
Seniors: Keith Benjamin (G), Ronald Ramon (G), Mike Cook (G/F)
Juniors: Levance Fields (PG), Sam Young (F), Tyrell Biggs (F)
Sophomores: Gilbert Brown (SF/G), Austin Wallace (BF)
Freshmen: Darnell Dodson (G/F), Bradley Wanamaker (G)
Pitt Gets Second Recruit for 2007 (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) as Bradley Wanamaker of Philadelphia's ROman Catholic High School made a verbal commitment to Pitt while visiting the school this week.
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Wanamaker joins Darnell Dodson in the 2007 Panther class, leaving three additional scholarship openings. Wanamaker had a strong showing at the ABCD camp this past summer in New Jersey where he was ranked 11th in the entire camp according to their player effeciency statistics. Wanamaker is known through Philadelphia for his toughness and fierce efforts on the defensive side of the ball. Although not very well known outside of the Philadelphia-area, it looks like Pittsburgh got a player built for them in the Big East. Wanamaker is not a great long-distance shooter, but is a capable ball-handler and mid-range shooter. He also thrives on attacking the basket and drawing contact. His excellent basketball IQ also elevates his game as he knows when and where to pick his spots to score. He is capable of playing all three perimeter positions, but will likely be a 2-guard in the college game. Some of the names of comparisons that people who have seen him around Philly thrown around when talking about Wanamaker include Dwayne Wade, Kyle Lowry and Ron Artest. From my limited view, I do see a little bit of each player in parts of his game with his toughness going to the rim, slashing ability and defensive intensity. Improving his long-distance shooting, although his form is very good, should be his immediate goal and if that becomes more consistent, Pitt really got themselves a steal.
With three scholarships left the Panthers now must concentrate on their frontcourt. With Aaron Gray, Levon Kendall and Doyle Hudson (along with Antonio Graves) all being seniors this coming season, the frontcourt needs players to contribute right away and additional depth. Over the first couple weekends of September we expect the Panthers to host Gary McGhee (6'10, 250 lbs), Aaron Pogue (6'9, 280 lbs) and Hamidu Rahman (6'11, 265 lbs). McGhee is a new name from our earlier report on the Panthers. The Indiana native seems to have moved to the top of the Panther recruiting list in the last couple weeks and is expected to make a decision shortly after his official visit to Pittsburgh, which should be his only official visit. McGhee has very good size and is solid on the defense end and on the boards. His offense is improving and shows the ability to score around the hoop and stepping out to face up. However, it is on the offensive end that most of his growth is needed as he becomes more 'with' the game. Rahman and Pogue are also big bodies that fit the Panther mold, but at this point, we expect McGhee to get the all out press from Pitt.
Another pair of players that we expect fans to see around the Panther campus this fall, or at least at the football games, are local standouts Herb Pope and DeJuan Blair. In the recent past, there has not been a lot of local talent for the Panthers to draw on, but in the class of 2007, Pope and Blair are both HIGHLY rated players. Neither has given a clear picture of their recruitment, although Pope has already verballed once to Pitt in the past. There is some question as to who is still recruiting Pope after a lackluster summer, but there is no question of how much talent he has. Blair is a 6'7 human hammer in the paint. He seems to be slowly moving toward a decision in the recruiting process, but you just never know.
Also coming to campus this fall is Chris Wright, the dynamic PG from St. John's College Prep, the same high school that Pitt's Director of Basketball Operations worked at this past year. Although Pitt needs big men, Wright is too good to pass up. We also continue to hear rumors that Michael Beasley could visit Pitt if he does not feel right about Kansas State. The Panthers also seem to be still involved with 7'0 Anthony McClain and 6'10 Ayodele Coker as well.
If I had a guess, the Panthers are very much in line to have Wanamaker, Dodson and McGhee in the fold soon. From there, with there last two scholarships, I would assume they would be willing to take any two of the following: Wright, Pope, Blair, Coker, McClain or Beasley. From there, Rahman and Pogue could be fallback options or even going the JUCO route for another big man could be a possibility. A couple other power forwards that seem to have some interest in Pit include Mike Scott, Kenton Walker, Brandon Walters and Lavoy Allen. With Wanamaker and Dodson committed, I do not think that Earl Pettis, Alvin Mitchell or DJ Kennedy are any longer in consideration.
As mentioned, with three more scholarships left to hand out and a bunch of visits coming in September, we will be following the Panthers closely.