And just like that, Pitt's scholarship situation has been cleared up quite a bit. Jaylen Bond, scheduled to come into the class of 2011 has decided he's heading to prep school. Well, at least that's the way it's being painted.
Who knows what really happened, but whatever. The key part of the announcement was this:
Bond signed his letter of intent in November, but he apparently was unaware that Birch did, too. The news of Birch's signing was kept under wraps until the signing period was over.
So here's a brief timeline of sorts: Bond signed in November, planning to attend Pitt and apparently believing that Khem Birch was coming in 2012. When Birch decided to come to Pitt a year earlier, it was news to Bond until signing day.
Here's the kicker, though ...
"As the year went by my coaches told me I might have a chance to go to 2011 and I thought that was a good idea because it will help me to get better in college instead of staying in high school," Birch said. "I just felt really comfortable with all of the coaches and players at Pittsburgh and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible because I knew it would help me to become a better player."
While Sparks confirmed that both she and Birch signed the letter of intent Wednesday, the final day of the early signing period, she also said that this was something that had been in the works for several weeks since Birch made a verbal commitment to the Panthers in late September.
"We decided a while ago that this is where we wanted to go," Sparks said. "We were keeping things very quiet because we wanted to make sure it came from us. We are quiet people. We just wanted to make sure the time was right.
It's not so much that Birch had been thinking of the idea for a few months - I definitely don't fault him...he can come out whenever he wants. And I hardly would have expected him to make a decision like within a few days. But from the sound of Ray Fittipaldo's Post-Gazette article, Bond didn't know about it.
If that's true, and I emphasize the word 'if,' then Pitt should feel bad about the predicament it put Bond in. I understand not publicly talking about Birch potentially signing to avoid all kinds of publicity, but don't you think Jamie Dixon and the school at least owed it to Bond to mention it was a possibility?
Again, maybe they did. I can't stress that enough and if I'm reading this the wrong way, then I've got it incorrect. But if they allowed Bond to sign, knowing full well they'd be over the limit without talking to him about it, then that's borderline sleazy. And while Bond is now freed from his LOI, he can't play for a Big East school - and one of his top choices (and probably his next best scholarship offer) was reportedly West Virginia.
Trust me, as much as I dislike West Virginia, the last thing I want to see is him end up there. But he certainly deserves the opportunity to play wherever he wants.
I'm itching for more details on this, but I doubt Bond will go all out on Pitt because he apparently hasn't given up the notion of playing for them. But I'd love to hear more on how this went down.