Wednesday, September 17, 2008


September 17, 2008

Verbal Commitment Alert: J.J. Richardson, 6'7 (F) from Hightown High School in Texas.

Pittsburgh basketball and coach Jamie Dixon added a fourth verbal commitment to their 2009 recruiting class when J/J. Richardson decided to end his recruitment and pledge to the Panthers.


Seniors: Levance Fields (PG), Sam Young (F), Tyrell Biggs (F)
Juniors: Jermaine Dixon (G)
Sophomores: Gilbert Brown (SF/G), Austin Wallace (BF), Bradley Wanamaker (G), Gary McGhee (C), DeJuan Blair (PF)
Freshmen: Travon Woodall (PG), Nasir Robinson (G/F), Ashton Gibbs (G), Dwight Miller (PF)
2009 Commit: Lamar Patterson (SG), Darnell Dodson (SF), Dante Taylor (PF), J/J. Richardson (F)


It was a very productive summer for J.J. Richardson playing with the Houston Elite AAU program. His blue-collar style and constant energy and effort in the paint caught the eye of the Pittsburgh coaching staff and they found a perfect fit for their program to continue the success they have enjoyed in recent years. A source close to Richardson and his recruitment beleives Pitt got one of the biggest sleepers in the country as the 6-foot-7, strong and athletic forward is just beginning to put things together on the basketball court.

Despite modest stats on a loaded high school team last season at Hightower High School in Fort Bend (TX), the former state of Ohio native impressed this summer at events such as the Reebok All-American Camp and during his time in Vegas. He recently visited Pittsburgh and his commitment only seemed like a manner of time afterwards.

"I loved it," said Richardson of his visit. "The players were all very nice and they brought me in to everything they were doing. They're definitely number one right now. I almost committed, and I really thought about it, but I wanted to have someplace to compare it to first."

That 'someplace' was supposed to be Oklahoma State, another school that Richardson was offered a scholarship from, but he never made it to campus as the Cowboys' frontcourt scholarships seemed to be taken up with some recent commitments.

Richardson joins Dante Taylor, whose dominating summer AAU season got the attention of Memphis, UConn, Syracuse, and Kansas, among many others, as a pair of forwards in the 2009 class. Taylor was targeted by Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion last year and Herrion put the full court press on Taylor ever since, and that made an impression on Taylor, who cites Pitt’s loyalty as one of the main reasons that he chose to be a Panther.

Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon landed his biggest commitment yet in his time as the Pittsburgh head coach when Taylor pulled the trigger and committed to the Panthers. The Pitt staff had made Taylor their priority in the class of 2009 at power forward nearly a year ago and their hard work paid off as the entire Pitt staff had been seen at many of Taylor's games this spring and summer, especially at the Reebok Summer Classic in New Jersey.

Taylor and Richardson both fit in well at Pitt as strong and athletic forwards who are both tremendous rebounders and loves to play strong and physical near the rim. Taylor has played his high school career for Trevor Brown at National Christian Academy and also plays for the NCA AAU team, which is also run by Brown as part of their high school program. Taylor has excelled at the NBA Top 100 camp and the Lebron James Skills Academy, solidifying his status of one of the top players in the class of 2009.

Joining Dante Taylor and J/J. Richardson in the Pitt class of 2009 as verbal commitments are Lamar Patterson, a guard forward who will be attending St. Benedict's prep in Newark (NJ) this coming season and Darnell Dodson, a big time small forward who will have three years of eligibility after joining the Panthers from Miami-Dade CC.

Even though, on paper, the Panther scholarships are one over the limit for 2009, it looks like a medical hardship case with PF/C Austin Wallace is in order. Wallace missed last season and was expected to be, at least, limited this season due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason last year. Still, Pitt seems to be very intent on adding another member in the 2009 class. They are swinging for the fences with players like Dominic Cheek, an elite shooting guard from St. Anthony's (NJ) and Durand Scott a G/F from Rice High School in NYC. At this point, both players are looking like long shots as neither has scheduled an official visit to Pittsburgh at this time, despite the efforts of the staff to bring them to campus.

However, there will be players visiting the campus this weekend when the Pitt football team hosts the Iowa Hawkeyes. Lamar Patterson and Dante Taylor are expected to make their official visits this weekend and potential big men targets Talin Zanna and James Padgett were scheduled to be visiting prior to Richardson's commitment. The Panthers will be honored at the football game by being presented with their Big East Tournament championship rings.

While their 2009 recruiting is near completion, there is expected to be a limited amount of scholarships available in the class of 2010 as well (one on paper). Local guard Tom Droney could be close to accepting a scholarship offer from Pitt and they are also, at least, the co-leader for New Juersey guard Isaiah Epps.

Stay tuned, the Pittsburgh recruiting news might not be over for the month of September....



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