Q&A for August 5th
By Chris Dokish
Q: I know you aren't high on Sim Bhullar but Pitt apparently is. If they should get him, that would give them two big projects at center. Isn't that one project too many?
A: The more I talk to people about Steve Adams, the more I realize that he's not as big of a project as people think. In fact, the college coaches who have seen him play tell me that if he was from the U.S. he would be a top 50 player.
To me, that makes wanting Bhullar even more confusing. Yes, he is giant, and that kind of size is the single most coveted trait in basketball. But you can only play one of these kids at a time, and quite frankly, Adams is considered a much better prospect.
Pitt was not even interested in him just a few months ago, but once Pat Skerry came on the scene, that interest level changed. Plus, to his credit, Bhullar did improve recently. I think Bhullar will end up at West Virginia, but if he does come to Pitt? Well, again, I think one big, true center is enough and it makes more sense to stock up other positions.
Q: I see that a lot of Pitt fans are doubting whether or not Adams will ever get to Pitt. Have you heard anything about that?
A: No. There is no reason why he won't end up at Pitt. He's not ready enough to go straight to the NBA, there is no way he's going to play professionally in New Zealand when he has NBA potential, and his only connection to a U.S. college is Pitt. You never know what may happen, but in all honesty, I see nothing right now stopping him from coming to Pitt.
Q: Do you think Adams could really play in the NBA?
A: Well, Gary McGhee is mentioned a possible NBA player and Adams is light years ahead of him at the same stage, and has much more physical gifts. If he works as hard as McGhee then the sky is the limit. Working as hard as McGhee is no easy task, but Adams is also a well known workout warrior so he has that going for him, too.
Q: Do you see any player on this roster who will be drafted in the NBA?
A: I have no idea on the freshman because it's too early. As for the others, I don't really see it. I know a lot of Pitt fans think somebody like Ashton Gibbs will get drafted, but I would be very, very surprised. The amount of athleticism you need to get drafted in the NBA is pretty sick. Scottie Reynolds and Gerry McNamara didn't get drafted either and they are two of the better guards to ever play in the Big East. I guess McGhee can because of his size, but he will really have to improve. I don't see Wanamaker making it either. But, hey, that doesn't mean they aren't good college players and that they won't play professionally somewhere.
Q: Do you have any names that Pitt is recruiting that many of us may not know they are recruiting?
A: Well, I see Ryan Arciacondo is one of them that was recently reported. Pitt has been interested in him since Pat Skerry came on the scene over a month ago. Others that aren't mentioned a lot, but that they are interested in, are Willy Kouassi and Greg Lewis in 2011, and Amile Jefferson, Kaleb Tarczewski, Alex Murphy, and Anthony Bennett in 2012.
Q: Are we still recruiting Savon Goodman?
Q: I think this team is loaded with great athleticism. Do you agree?
A: Not really, no. Good athleticism, yes. Teams with great athletic ability are in a different league. But there is such an influx of great athletes coming in that you are about to see what a really athletic team looks like very soon.
Q: One of the reports out of the summer league was that Cameron Wright could play point guard for us. Is that what you're hearing?
A: He's a good passer and has a nice handle, but he is not a point guard.
Q: Who do you think the starters will be this season?
A: I have no idea. The coaches don't even know. I know Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, and Gary McGhee will start, but who else starts, and who gets how many minutes, really doesn't matter right now because nobody knows how each player will advance, or not advance.
Q: Do you think Talib Zanna is going to get quality minutes this season?
A: To be honest, the people at Pitt were assuming he would still be a little raw this season to get quality minutes, but there is one thing he can do already, and it's everything at Pitt, and that's rebound. For that reason, I can see him getting decent minutes this season, especially early. If he proves himself, he may continue to get decent minutes.
Q: Do you think Gary McGhee will get drafted?
A: I guess it's possible. Right now, I'm told he won't be. But if Darren Morningstar can improve enough in his senior season to get drafted then I guess McGhee can. His offensive game is severely limited, though, and he would have to improve a lot in that area. Don't forget that he scored in double figures in only three Big East games and went scoreless in Pitt's Big East tournament and NCAA tournament losses. That's not going to cut it.
Q: With Adams now in the fold, is center still the position the staff is trying to land for the last '11 scholarship?
A: From my understanding, they are mostly looking at big guys Desmond Hubert, Malcolm Gilbert, Mikael Hopkins, and Amir Williams, and perimeter players Durand Johnson and Myles Davis.
Q: I see that Darnell Dodson was thrown out at Kentucky. Was that you that said Pitt was better off with Lamar Patterson?
A: Not only did I say it, I said it about fifty times. Patterson is almost as good of a shooter as Dodson, plus he's better at everything else. Throw in the fact that he has much better character and more eligibility and you can see why some people at Pitt told me they weren't heartbroken about his departure.
Q: Are the chances of landing Myles Davis better if he decides to go to the 2012 class?
A: Probably, though his grades are pretty bad. He's a great shooter, but the truth is, there are more complete shooting guards that Pitt has a chance with. No need trying to land him until they see if they could land an Omar Calhoun or a Ricky Ledo. Ledo may be a reach, but Calhoun is a possibility.
Q: Do you think Pitt has a legit chance of landing Calhoun?
A: Yes. If North Carolina doesn't offer then I think Pitt has a legit chance.
Q: Do you think Pitt has a chance to land Jason Boswell?
A: He's in the class of 2013. Way too early.
Q: Did Pitt ever seriously recruit TJ McConnell?
A: No. But he should be a very good player for Duquesne.
Q: Do the coaches at Pitt think they will get Khem Birch?
A: I think one of the most common misconceptions in the world of basketball recruiting is how much coaches know what's going on with the players they are pursuing, and the truth is, they often know less than a good recruiting writer. Don't forget that the writer can talk to a kid any time he wants while the coach has very few times he can talk to them. Especially now that they can't text them as much as they want. A lot of times the coaches read the recruiting articles to see what's going on, and as far as I know, that's how Pitt found out that they were leading for Birch. So they are basically doing a lot of praying.
Q: Are we still recruiting Mike Taylor and Kadeem Jack?
A: No on Taylor, yes on Jack.
Q: Sounds like the Scottie Reynolds clone, John Johnson, is coming on. Is he the point guard of the future?
A: He's the same size as Reynolds and he's from the same area, but he is much more athletic than Reynolds, and Reynolds is a much better shooter. And either Epps or Johnson will be the PG of the future. If they both start, then Epps will probably be the PG and Johnson will be the SG from what I'm told, but Johnson can definitely play PG if need be.
Q: Could you rank all of these players in order, as prospects: J.J. Moore, Isaiah Epps, Cameron Wright, Steven Adams, Jaylen Bond, John Johnson, Sim Bhullar, Myles Davis, Omar Calhoun, Desmond Hubert, Khem Birch, and Durand Johnson?
A: I'll do it, but only to show you where each are perceived as prospects. And this is from the coaches I talk to so if the last person on the list ends up being the best player, don't come back and complain to me. This is simply how they are seen as prospects:
1. Khem Birch- Raw, but great natural skills. To say getting him would be great for the program is a huge understatement.
2. Omar Calhoun- Complete guard and the type of SG that National Campionship caliber programs must have.
3. JJ Moore- Excellent 6'6" athlete who can score. What more could you want?
4. Steve Adams*- Asterisk is because he just could be the best of the bunch when it's all said and done, but with big guys you never know. His natural size, athleticism, and tenacity are All-American level. He just needs to live up to that.
5. John Johnson- Some Scottie Reynolds comparisons, but Reynolds couldn't dream to have this kind of athleticism. On the side, Johnson is not the shooter Reynolds was. If he gets more consistent with his outside shoot then look out.
6. Desmond Hubert- Pretty much just a skinny shot blocker right now, but shot blocking is a highly coveted skill. And he is superb at it.
7. Jaylen Bond- Intriguing prospect with sick athleticism and an improving all around game.
8. Isaiah Epps- The forgotten man since he prepped this past season, but he is an excellent athlete who can defend, shoot the three with consistency, and pass with the best of them.
9. Myles Davis- One of the better three point shooters prospects in the country, but the rest of his game is not at that same level. Still it will be tough to pass on that kind of shooter.
10. Durand Johnson- Lanky athlete who has a very good all around game.
11. Cameron Wright- Very long athlete who can jump out of the gym. The rest of his game needs improvement but the athleticism means he will be a productive cog in Pitt's future.
12. Sim Bhullar- Can't teach 7'3" and if it wasn't for Adams, he would be worth a shot. Still, a lot of college coaches insist he can't play at a high college level so that has to be worrisome.
Just for the record, all of these players are very good, and it wouldn't surprise me if any of them turned out to be the best one in college.