Friday, July 25, 2008


July 25, 2008

Panthers Strike it Big with Top Recruit

By Anthony Jaskulski

In the basketball recruiting world, Pittsburgh has never really been a team known for hitting the jackpot with highly-touted, blue chip stars.

However, with their latest commitment, the Panthers winning number has finally come up.

With one of the biggest commitments in the program's history, Pitt nabbed one of the nations finest recruits in power forward Dante Taylor. The rivals.com five-star stud chose Pitt after an AAU tournament in West Virginia this past week. He will sign a letter-of-intent come November to officially be the newest member of an already power-packed recruiting class.


Taylor, who grew up in White Plains, NY, moved to Ft. Washington, MD in his sophomore year to play high school basketball with the traditional powerhouse National Christian Academy, and where the 6’8, 215 pound power big man made his name famous.

Receiving letters from Georgetown, Maryland, Louisville and Kansas to name a few, Taylor’s interest was drawn solely on the Panthers after a visit to Pittsburgh in early June for the Panthers hosted Pittsburgh Jam Fest.

“I liked Pitt from the beginning, and I thought it was a good fit for me,” said Taylor. “But what I liked a lot was when I was up there (for the Jam Fest), and saw how they all stuck together and hung out on and off the court. I want to be a part of a family like that and it looks like that’s what they have up there.”

Taylor, who is ranked No.24 in the ESPN Top 100, became the target of mostly every school in the Big East and ACC. And while excited to be a part of a family-oriented team like Pitt, it was also the coaching style and conference that brought the big man in blue and gold.

“I like their style of play and built up a good relationship with their coach (Jamie Dixon),” he said. “I like the fact that I’ll be playing in the Big East and the fact that every night it’s a competition no matter who you are playing.”

The commitment of Taylor marks the highest rated recruit the Pittsburgh program has pulled in during the Jamie Dixon era. The closest came last year from now- sophomore DeJuan Blair, who ranked 31 on the ESPN Top 100.

Already being ushered to the list of former Panther stand-out big men including Chevy Troutman and Aaron Gray, Taylor will have the pressure of trying to emulate them with broad, physical toughness, and the ability to run the floor. But it’s something Taylor looks forward too more than anything.

“I like the run-and-gun, physical game they play, and it’s something I definitely see myself doing. I think the whole conference you have to be tough and Pitt just adds more to it, especially with the big men. I like that style of basketball.”

With his physicality and big frame, Taylor also has the versatile ability and packs a deadly mid-range game, with exceptional ball-handling skills for a big man, making him a deadly threat wherever he is at on the floor—a deadly threat that can see himself blending in with the rough-and-tough style of his new team, the Panthers.

“I see myself fitting in right away and doing whatever is needed to get the job done. I’m really excited to be apart of this team, and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.”


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Monday, July 14, 2008


July 14, 2008

Verbal Commitment Alert: Dante Taylor, 6'8 (PF) from National Christian Academy

Pittsburgh basketball and coach Jamie Dixon made a huge statement today with the verbal commitment of 6’8” power forward Dante Taylor. Taylor, of National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, MD, is generally considered one of the top 20 prospects in the nation, and is considered a potential star in college.


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)


Taylor, whose dominating summer AAU season got the attention of Memphis, UConn, Syracuse, and Kansas, among many others, was targeted by Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion last year. 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 today 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 recent Reebok Summer Classic in New Jersey.

Taylor fits in well at Pitt as he is a strong and athletic power forward who is a tremendous rebounder 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 recently 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 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 exhausted for 2009, it looks like Pitt is aggressively pursuing at least one more player. With Mike Cook appealing for a 6th year, there must be some form of roster attrition expected, and a possible medical hardship case with PF/C Austin Wallace is a possibility. In that case, players like Dominic Cheek, an elite shooting guard from St. Anthony's (NJ), Durand Scott a G/F from Rice High School in NYC, Thomas Robinson a power forward from Riverdale Baptist in DC and NYC big man Dan Jennings are a few of the possibilities for the Panthers.

Chris Dokish contributed to this report. More to come later...


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