The Panthers used ten players regularly in 2013 and only two of them were seniors. That means Pitt will have plenty of experience heading into next season. Jamie Dixon will have the luxury of having four starters back, but he will need to find a replacement for his senior leader, guard Tray Woodall. Dixon can go in a number of directions for his fifth starter, so who are the candidates?
James Robinson will be the main point guard this season, and presumably the next three. He shared those duties with Woodall last season, thus leaving a void for a true scoring guard. Robinson having a defined role can certainly improve the makeup of the starting lineup moving forward. Trey Zeigler could get the first crack at the job. The senior had a disappointing season in 2013, but we know he is used to being a go to guy with Central Michigan. Zeigler is a "slasher" by nature, and will not add much in the way of outside shooting. He can score in double figures if given the minutes, but will not be the outside threat Pitt fans are yearning to find.
Durand Johnson should also get a look. Johnson was the team's best outside shooter as a redshirt freshman. Johnson is actually a good athlete as well, but his defense needs to improve.
Another candidate will be rising junior, Cameron Wright. Wright would probably not be the fan favorite, but he has room to grow. He almost fits the mold of past Panther guards Antonio Graves and Brad Wanamaker. I say that in the sense, both of those guys looked shaky to start their careers, but developed seemingly overnight going into their junior seasons. Wright is a good defender, but would need to make a big jump in his offense to start.
The remaining options may be slightly farfetched, but still possible. Chris Jones is a redshirt from New Jersey. He may fit more into the mold of a small forward, but he will get a chance to prove himself. He was lightly recruited, and a bit of a gamble by Dixon, so it is hard to say what he will bring. Dixon could also turn to true freshman, Josh Newkirk. Newkirk is a point guard by nature, but will be the most explosive guard in the Howland/Dixon era ... by far. This kid can really get up and create for himself. Even if he does not start, he should play quite a bit.
Pitt also has two scholarships that need filled for next season. They are in the mix for some guards, and they will also enter the race. Pitt has some solid pieces heading into their first ACC season. I think the majority of fans think they can make at least some noise in the new league. Pitt will need to identify that extra scoring option in the fifth starter, but if they do, it could be an incredibly successful year.
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