When one of Pitt's highest-rated recruits in recent memory, Khem Birch, decided to transfer to UNLV, it was a bit of a surprise. That shock was multiplied exponentially when Birch bolted in the middle of the season.
We may never know the true reason for Birch's exit, but style of play and lack of minutes have been two of the most widely-cited reasons. Even though he's no longer in the program, I like to check in on his progress from time to time. The only consistent thing in Birch's second season in college has been that it's inconsistent so far.
Birch has had the monster games that most predicted he'd have. There was a 20-point 8-rebound effort against Canisius. A double-double against Chicago State. 14 and 7 against Nevada and 16 and 7 this past weekend against San Diego State. But that's only one side of the story.
In between those big games have been some duds. Birch completely flopped in one of the team's biggest games of the year last weekend against New Mexico State when he shot 1-6 from the field for only two points and five rebounds in eating up 29 minutes. He had a one-point outing against Wyoming. There was also a light three-point effort playing against North Carolina. In seven of his 17 games this year, Birch has failed to record even five points.
None of this is to suggest that he's been a bust. As I documented earlier, he's had his share of big games. He's also generally had decent nights rebounding and shot well. But a year later, it's still pretty clear that Birch is a bit of a work in progress.