Q&A for May 3rd
By Chris Dokish
And like I said before, I have rewritten the questions for the sake of clarity. If not there would be too many incoherent questions that are written phonetically or in shorthand. And I also felt it was best to combine and edit questions, again for the sake of clarity.
Q: Any word on the replacement for Tom Herrion? What's taking so long?
A: Jamie Dixon is busy recruiting and he has been taking his time looking for an assistant. There's really no hurry. But if the replacement is who I'm hearing it will be, the fans will be doing cartwheels. I can't say any more than that because, well, you have to just trust me that I can't, but the fans will be very happy if it is indeed him. At least they should be. You can't please everybody.
Q: Why doesn't Dixon just promote Rasheen Davis?
A: Davis has a very bright future and, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he is on a staff next season (with Mike Rice at Rutgers?). If Brandin Knight wasn't the other assistant, I think it would be a done deal. But Knight has only two years experience as an assistant and Davis has none. That's just not going to cut it in the Big East. I said from the beginning that it will probably be a veteran who can be an associate head coach, and if what I'm hearing is true, that's exactly what it will be.
Q: How do you feel about Jaylen Bond? I hear he is another Nasir Robinson, in that he's a small forward who can't shoot.
A: I love the commitment of Bond, and if I thought he would actually be a three then I would also be a little dismayed about another three that doesn't have a great outside shot. Hey, down the road, he may be a three, but from what I'm told, he will definitely be a four for the Panthers. He is a solid 6'7", plays good defense, can rebound, is bull strong, and is athletic as hell. A forward combo of Bond and J.J. Moore in a few years (with Talib Zanna thrown in as well), could be one hell of a tandem.
Q: Is it just me or are the Panthers really recruiting at a higher level next season? That's unless you look at the current top 150 list from Rivals.
A: It's not just you. The last five of Moore, Cameron Wright, Isaiah Epps, John Johnson, and Bond are pretty special, in my opinion. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that none are big men who need developing, so it's pretty obvious the talent that each has (except to the Rivals national recruiting writer, I guess). Bottom line, the last five recruits the Panthers have landed may be the best five player stretch in their history as far as a combining athleticism, basketball talent, and Panthers-style mental strength. Every one should make Pitt fans ecstatic.
When DeJuan Blair was rarely in anybody's top 100, I told you guys over and over again that I talked to actual coaches who said he was a top 50 player. And I'll tell you this time that in my opinion, Moore is around 50, Epps, Johnson, and Bond are in the 50-75 range, and Wright about 100. But better yet, they all have very high ceilings. Somebody like Robinson was in the 75-100 range, but he was just a scrapper who everybody knew was never really going to be a star because of his weaknesses. Not to bash him because I never bash anybody with heart but it is what it is.
But any one of these five could really take off into something special. If more than one turns into something special, and the rest merely live up to their potential, then Pitt should go further in the NCAA tournament than they ever have. And of course this isn't even including some guy named Dante Taylor, who just happens to be a McDonald's All-American, a deadly shooting guard who was all-conference as a sophomore, a couple of promising redshirt freshmen, and the normal group of hard nosed role players. I get some fans all fired up because I say Dixon doesn't recruit at a Final Four level (which somehow gets turned into me saying he can't recruit), but he has definitely turned up the recruiting in the past few years thanks to Herrion and Knight (thank Herrion for the parting gift of Bond, by the way). If any Pitt fans aren't excited about the future of this program, then they simply aren't paying attention, because if I had to guess I would say that the future may be even brighter than the past.
Q: I saw that NBE had a power poll already. Did you vote, and if so, what did your vote look like?
A: I did vote and this is how I voted:
1. Pittsburgh- Scariest sentence in the conference- "Jamie Dixon has an experienced team".
2. Villanova- Most pure talent than anybody else in the league and it's not even close.
3. Syracuse- Even without Johnson, Rautins, and Onuaku they may actually have more talented players this season.
4. Georgetown- Wright and Freeman both have Player of the Year potential.
5. West Virginia- Some devastating losses in Ebanks and Butler, but Bob Huggins can never be counted out.
6. Marquette- Butler and Johnson-Odom return, plus some high impact newcomers.
7. Notre Dame- Harangody is gone, but the Irish may now excel by not always relying on him.
8. Providence- Some seriously good offensive talent, with even more coming, makes the Friars a potential sleeper.
9. UConn- Kemba Walker will have to do a lot because the rest of the team is young and untested.
10. Louisville- You can never count out Rick Pitino, but this is a team of unproven players at this time.
11. St. John's- A lot of experience and a new coach, but they are lacking the top level talent.
12. Cincinnati- He had his issues, but Lance Stephenson leaving still hurts a lot.
13. South Florida- Gilchrist and Famous are good enough to keep the Bulls competitive.
14. DePaul- This is where it starts to get ugly, but at least Oliver Purnell is a solid coach.
15. Seton Hall- The Bobby Gonzalez experiment was a disaster and now it's time to pay.
16. Rutgers- Dane Miller and nobody else, including a coach at this time.
And remember, that we were asked to vote with the thought that every player who is currently in the NBA draft will continue to stay there. We will do another one after the deadline.
Q: Any word on whether or not J.J. Moore will qualify?
A: The last I heard, I was told that for the first time that the chances were "realistic". That was the exact word that was used by a source who would know. From what I understand, Moore had to really work hard, then get the grades, and so far he has really worked hard. That's half the battle. It's going to be touch and go all the way but there is definitely a chance.
Q: What do you think the Panthers will do with their last 2011 scholarship?
A: Well, it's pretty obvious that they need a center and I know for a fact that they really want to land one. So it would be a good guess. As for which center, I'm guessing it's probably somebody most Pitt fans have never heard before.
Q: Do you see Pitt getting Desmond Hubert or Kadeem Jack to play center?
A: Hubert isn't even a center, he's a power forward. Jack may be able to play center. As for getting either, I would doubt it. Pitt has never recruited Jack hard. If he preps, could Pitt then go hard after him? Quite possibly. But if the likes of UConn and Arizona want him again in 2011, they will have a big leg up because they have been recruiting him much longer. As for Hubert, he is skinny and very raw offensively so he is very much a project. But there is one thing he does extremely well, and that's block shots. That's like being a left tackle in football or a left handed reliever in baseball in that it's a special skill that makes you very coveted. My guess is that he will wait to commit which will make him very much in demand.
Q: Do you see Pitt landing Mike Taylor or Myles Davis in 2011?
A: There's no doubt that they would love either but like I said before, they really feel that they need a center and that's the position they would love to land in '11.
Q: Could Ryan Rhoomes be a sleeper for the last scholarship in 2011?
A: He is a solid prospect, but from what I was told, he is not near the top of the list.
Q: Do you think Tom Herrion will bring his Marshall players to the Pro-Am in Greentree this summer?
A: I actually ran into Herrion and jokingly said that to him and he said he would love to and wishes it was closer. Of course, it's four and a half hours away, so that's not going to happen.
Q: Have you ever been to the Pro-Am in Greetree and are you going to be there this summer?
A: I have seen some games and I will probably be there for every game this summer since I'm moving back to Pittsburgh at the end of May.
Q: What does it say about the state of college basketball that a good guy like Jamie Dixon can't make a Final Four, but a jerk like Bob Huggins can?
A: You can dislike Huggins all you want, but the truth is, he is very well liked in basketball circles.
Q: Any word on whether or not Pitt will join the Big 10?
A: I have no idea. I would think if they went to 16 then Pitt would get in. I know a lot of people mention Notre Dame and Nebraska, but I'm told Notre Dame won't join. Nebraska may join because of the money the Big 10 provides. Missouri seems like a done deal practically. Rutgers seems like a sure bet, too, if they go to 16. That would leave two more and you would think Pitt and Syracuse would be in above UConn or perhaps Kansas. How about:
Big "10" East:
Football strong teams for the most part (Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin), basketball strong teams for the most part (Pitt, Ohio State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Illinois)
Big "10" West:
Football strong teams for the most part (Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa) and basketball strong teams for the most part (Michigan State, Missouri, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota as long as Tubby Smith is there).