BIG EAST RECRUITING UPDATE: PITTSBURGH
September 28, 2008
Verbal Commitment Alert: Talib Zanna, 6'9 (BF/C) from Bishop McNamara (MD)
Pittsburgh basketball and coach Jamie Dixon has added another verbal commitment to the impressive Pitt class of 2009 as Talib Zanna has made a verbal commitment to the Pittsburgh program today, according to a source close to the situation. Zanna visited Pittsburgh last weekend.
Last night we posted the story that Darnell Dodson Will Not Re-Enroll at Pitt due to Big East rules since he originally enrolled in the school before being fully qualified.
PROJECTED 2008-2009 PITTSBURGH ROSTER:
Seniors: Levance Fields (PG), Sam Young (F), Tyrell Biggs (F)
Juniors: Jermaine Dixon (G)
Sophomores: Gilbert Brown (SF/G), Bradley Wanamaker (G), Gary McGhee (C), DeJuan Blair (PF)
Freshmen: Travon Woodall (PG), Nasir Robinson (G/F), Ashton Gibbs (G), Dwight Miller (PF)
2009 Commits: Lamar Patterson (SG), Dante Taylor (PF), J/J. Richardson (F), Talib Zanna (BF/C)
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Talib Zanna has impressed the NBE Basketball Report in the summer for the player he has become, but the player he could become has always had our staff very intrigued. Early in July at the Agent Zero to Hero event Zanna showed his ability to run the floor and improved willingness to battle in the post. At the Reebok Summer Championships Zanna displayed ability to face-up and attack off the dribble.
At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds Zanna has the size to compete in the Big East and the athletic ability that had college coaches watching this summer. One major college assistant watching Zanna this summer remarked he "Has Major upside! Very long and athletic. Rebounds very well." Zanna finished his summer playing for the Triple Threat AAU program after starting the AAU circuit with the DC Blue Devils. He will compete in his senior season with Bishop McNamara this season.
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 believes 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 and Zanna join Dante Taylor, whose dominating summer AAU season got the attention of Memphis, UConn, Syracuse, and Kansas, among many others, as a trio of frontcourt players 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, Zanna and Richardson all fit in well at Pitt as strong and athletic forwards who are tremendous rebounders and will 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.
Rounding out the current Pitt class of 2009 of verbal commitments is Lamar Patterson, a guard/forward who will be attending St. Benedict's prep in Newark (NJ) this coming season. The Lancaster (PA) native committed to Pittsburgh last year during the high school season. Patterson is a versatile backcourt performer who offers very good size to the wing.
Even though, on paper, the Panther scholarships are full for 2009, 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. Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon is made an in-home visit to Cheek earlier this evening in hopes of at least securing one of his five official visits. Scott visited Pittsburgh the weekend of September 20th and talked highly og he trip. Scott was taking an official visit to Connecticut this weekend and plans on taking trips to Miami, UCLA and Tennessee before making a decision. The final guard on the radar at this time is 6-foot-3 shooting guard DeAndre Kane. Kane was a high school teammate of DeJuan Blair at Schenley High School and is taking a post-graduate season at the Patterson School in Lenoir (NC). Kane has impressed visiting coaches this fall in workouts.
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.
Senior point guard Levance Fields underwent a second surgery on the injured right foot that forced him to miss 12 games last season earlier this month. Concern has been building that the foott has not responded well to the surgery and the timing of his return to action is uncertain. According to a person with knowledge of the injury, he foot is healing as expected, however an infection in the foot has slowed his ability to rehab the injury. In the event that Fields would miss action on the court, the plan is for freshmen Travon Woodall of St. Anthony's in Jersey City (NJ) and Seton Hall Prep product Ashton Gibbs to handle the point guard duties. The other positions seem to be settles with Gilbert Brown at the shooting guard position, Sam Young at small forward, Tyrell Biggs at power forward and DeJuan Blair as the center as the potential line-up getting the longest look. Sophomore Brad Wanamaker and JUCO Jermaine Dixon add depth to both guard positions and will compete for key time as well. The versatility of Brown and Young give Pitt several line-up options, but the key factor will be the health of Fields and his right foot in pulling it all together.
Chris Dokish contributed to the report and the added notes.
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