DeMatha (MD) product BeeJay Anya might be the next big thing to wear an alternative gold uniform. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Pitt will have at least two open scholarships next season with the departures of Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor. Depending on how Steven Adams plays, that could be another (NBADraft.net has him going sixth overall in their current mock). Depending how playing time is doled out this season, there could be a guard leaving the program as well.
The point is, even with Mike Young in the fold and Jamel Artis seemingly headed that way, Pitt's recruiting class is likely far from finished. Pitt could have as few as two and as many as four scholarships available for the class of 2013 and Jamie Dixon can't spend the next 6 months waiting to find out.
Even if Adams is in Oakland next year, most people have him projected as gone after that. That would leave Malcolm GIlbert as the sole remaining center on the roster. And while I have faith in Gilbert's development a la the patented Jamie Dixon Big Man Development Program, another center will be desperately needed.
Meet BeeJay Anya. Anya is a remarkable prospect from Maryland whose recruiting blew up when his conditioning took off. He's now an elite 2013 prospect and he has a pretty solid connection to the Pitt basketball team.
So what makes Anya unique? His impressive defense for starters. His superfreak 7'3" wing-span and 9'3" reach are another:
To the average person, those numbers don’t mean too much, but when comparing Anya’s stats to some of the biggest wingspans of NBA draftees in recent years, Anya’s marvelous span blows virtually everyone away. Case in point, former #1 overall pick Greg Oden was measured as having a 7‘4.25 inch wingspan coming out of college, coincidentally the same as NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant. 2008 prospect John Riek is on record as having the largest wingspan of 7’8.25 but he went undrafted. Shaq was measured as having a 7’7 span.
While his impressive wingspan is remarkable, his massive 9’3″ reach is actually the best of any player in history to be drafted by the NBA. His freakish length is almost unheard of considering that Anya stands only 6’8″ tall. Most other players even coming close to Beejay’s reach measure near 7 feet or better.
With offers from virtually everyone, what gives Pitt a chance with Anya? He's a teammate of freshman James Robinson and the two are apparently pretty close, and according to an interview Robinson gave, he's working the elite big man:
Are you trying to recruit anyone to come with you?
Right now it’s pretty much just class of 2013 [center] BeeJay Anya. He’s my DeMatha teammate as well as Team Takeover teammate. We have a great relationship so it would be a lot of fun if he came to Pitt. I’m just trying to sell him on the school and the basketball program and how much he would excel here.
Fantastic news, obviously, as Pitt could use someone with Anya's skill set, with or without Steven Adams on the roster in 2013.
Unofrtunately, Indiana may be the team to beat for Anya's services. What would any high-profile basketball recruiting battle be without some alleged sleaze?:
[New Indiana Assistant Coach Kenny] Johnson is a Maryland graduate and former high school coach with years of experience on the AAU travel circuit with Nike Team TakeOver.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Crean is in hot pursuit of 2013 DeMatha big man BeeJay Anya, a four-star recruit who plays for Takeover and played under Johnson before he left for Towson.
Never change, basketball recruiting. And by "never," I mean "immediately." Shady stuff by the extremely unlikeable Tom Crean. It reminds me a bit of the Michael Beasley / Bob Huggins mess. Because, you know, Jamie Dixon would never do anything like that.