Ever so often, the ugly issue of all of Pitt's recent transfers rears its ugly head. Typically, I haven't paid that much attention to it. Kids transfer from all schools and it's not really something that can be avoided. But with the recent decision of center Malcolm Gilbert to leave the program, it was worth it to me to at least take a glance at all of Pitt's transfers over the past two years:
Malcolm Gilbert: This was perhaps the most unexpected one to me. And more than that, it really puts Pitt in a bind because of a true lack of depth in the frontcourt. Gilbert played last year as a true freshman, but decided he wanted to play with his brother at Fairfield and is apparently headed there.
John Johnson: A year ago, this move seemed pretty unthinkable since he was playing quite a bit - particularly with the Tray Woodall injury. But after he fell behind Cam Wright in the rotation this year and James Robinson emerged as a starter, Johnson really became expendable and decided to move on. He ended up at Penn State.
Khem Birch: Ah, yes - this is the one that hurts the most without question. Birch was possibly Pitt's biggest recruit of all time and he didn't even last a season. He reportedly wanted a more up-tempo offense and possibly even more playing time before leaving ending up at UNLV.
Isaiah Epps: Epps was a highly-regarded player before coming to Pitt and even though his stock slipped a bit before coming to college, he was still considered a point guard of the future for the team. But after redshirting his first year and playing sparingly last season, he decided to leave the program.
J.J. Richardson: Another move that wasn't a huge shock was Richardson transferring out of Pitt in 2011. After spending 2010-11 with Pitt and playing sparingly, he decided to move on and is now at Houston, where ironically, he's not playing much more.
That brings us to Jamie Dixon. Really, we can talk about him not holding onto players, but in the cases of Richardson, Epps, and Johnson, a big issue appeared to be playing time (or perhaps, polite nudges out due to them not factoring in all that much in a case or two). None of those players seemed to have particularly bright futures and their losses were fairly minimal. More tot he point, they were beaten out by better players, and there's absolutely nothing Dixon can do about that.
Then there's the case of Gilbert. That one hurts for sure, but if the answer really is as cut and dry about wanting to play with a sibling, there's nothing that Dixon can do about that, either. Who knows if playing time was a factor - perhaps Gilbert thought Adams would be a one-and-done player and time would be freed up for him to potentially be a starter by next season. With Adams potentially sticking around, though, Gilbert could have been relegated to serving as a backup. But going back to playing alongside his brother - again, Dixon's hands would be tied there.
Lastly we come to Birch. I tend to write this one off to a kid simply not wanting to be here. Even his prep school coach thought it was a mistake at the time. Birch got playing time as a freshman and was on the verge of getting more. But his decision to leave in the middle of the year really showed a bit of his immaturity to me. Could Dixon have done more to ensure he was happy? Maybe, but in the end, that's not really his job. His job is to win games and try to develop players.
All in all, the transfers are a bit frustrating but I think more evidence is needed before getting on Dixon's case.