Pitt's open scholarships could test the program

USA TODAY Sports

With two open scholarships for next year - and no major prospects on the horizon - Pitt could find itself in a precarious situation soon.

Jamie Dixon will have four scholarships to give out next season. Two were obvious and expected (Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor) and two were a bit more unexpected (John Johnson and Malcolm GIlbert). It seems as if Dixon had correctly planned to have just two openings, accepting the commitments of power forward Mike Young and point guard John Newkirk.

The problem, of course, is that Pitt is still two under the 13 scholarship limit next season. Here's Pitt's scholarship situation beginning with the 2013-14 season:

Chart2013_1__medium

Pitt will have four players with senior eligibility at the start of the 2013-14 season - Trey Zeigler, J.J. Moore, Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna. If Dixon is unable to find suitable talent this late in the game for the 2013 class, Pitt will be looking to fill six open spots in the class of 2014, a monumental task.

The wildcard, of course, is Steven Adams. It seems like a safe assumption that Steven Adams will not be a one and done player as many predicted he might be. But after his sophomore year? That's anyone's guess. And while Adams developing into a high-caliber NBA draft pick would likely mean that Pitt got a great 2013-14 out of him, his departure would really, really put Pitt in a bad situation with the possibility of a whopping seven open scholarships.

As much as the sheer number of possible openings is a problem, even more daunting is their uneven distribution. While Pitt will have a glut of swingmen and guards, the situation under the basket is alarming. Here's that same chart, but organized by position:

Chart2013_2__medium

By 2014, Pitt will be down to just two players to man power forward and center, and that's assuming one of them is Adams. Malcolm Gilbert was supposed to be ready to succeed Adams at center - or at least contribute as his back up in 2013 and then take over whenever Adams least. We all know that can't happen now. So at the least, Pitt will need to add two - maybe three - quality big men ready to contribute in time for November 2014 if not sooner. Big men tend to be less ready to play immediately than guards, so Pitt could have a huge problem unless this issue is addressed in a meaningful way quickly.

So is help on the horizon? Maybe. Baltimore native Jamel Artis keeps trying to commit to Pitt, but his position isn't at the level of need as a power forward or center. Dixon doesn't seem to be in on anyone in the 2013 Rivals top 150, and the ESPN top 60 of 2014 (early, I know) doesn't seem to have many big men that are from traditional Pitt recruiting areas.

It's certainly not time to panic, but I'm more than a bit worried about the talent on this team by 2014, particularly in the frontcourt.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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