I'd love to tell you that we have a day off around here, but yeah, that wouldn't be true. Last week it was Terrell Jackson (and maybe Deaysean Rippy ... we still don't know). Yesterday, it was Rushel Shell. Today? The basketball program got hit with the transfer bug when it was announced Trey Zeigler is moving on.
Per Pitt's official statement:
PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon announced Tuesday that junior guard Trey Zeigler (Detroit, Mich./Mount Pleasant H.S.) has decided to transfer.
“We will assist Trey in finding the best situation for him to reach his goals both academically and athletically,” Dixon said. “He’s a great kid, hard worker and good player. We thank Trey for his contribution to our program over the last year and wish him much success in the future.”
Zeigler, a 6-foot-5-inch, 203-pound guard, averaged 4.4 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in 31 games played for Pitt in 2012-13.
Look, I get the rush to judgment that losing Zeigler is no big loss. I'm even inclined to believe it a little. The only problem, though, is that Pitt is pretty thin at shooting guard. The move may assure that Cam Wright wins the starting job next season virtually by default. I felt that way before, but without Zeigler, he's really the only true option left. If anything, Pitt was better off by having Zeigler just because he's had a year in the system, is a veteran, and is a guard capable of scoring.
Zeigler wasn't a great player last season by any means. And he was an even poorer fit in Pitt's system. I'm sure he would even admit that. But with a year under his belt, I would have hoped he'd be better next year. Plus, I love having seniors on a team and there's always something to be said for their leadership.
The other point is that it opens up another scholarship. But the problem is that players the pickings are getting pretty slim. Having open scholarships isn't all that great if you have to fill them with players you didn't want enough to offer them in the first place. While Pitt may land a player who ultimately contributes, if it's not a JUCO kid, he might not do so right away.
So why now? Who knows, but Zeigler has only one shot to get to the NBA (Don't laugh - that's his goal, I'm sure) or at the least play overseas ... and he wouldn't get there by staying at Pitt as a role player. Zeigler will have a much better shot at showcasing his skills by going to a school similar to his previous gig, Central Michigan. He needs a place where he can be the focal point and score points. One interesting thing is that Zeigler may not wait the year to sit out. He could latch on somewhere as a walk on and just pay the tuition himself. His father Ernie, a former coach, made a pretty good living, so money shouldn't be an issue - especially for just a season. I'm not sure where he's headed, but a smaller D-I school would make sense in a lot of ways.
I'm not saying this is the worst thing in the world for Pitt. Zeigler was a marginal player for the team last season and even improved, he wouldn't have been a star next year. But given the lack of depth at shooting guard, Pitt may not have been bad off by having him around. And also, this is just the latest in instability surrounding the program. The basketball program lost John Johnson, Malcolm Gilbert, Khem Birch, Isaiah Epps, J.J. Richardson in the last two years. I wrote about this earlier this year doing my best to explain some of this away, but that gets more difficult to do with yet another guy leaving.