As I wrote about recently, one of the downsides of this year's basketball team is the heavy reliance on freshmen due to all of the recent transfers and departures. When you add in the injury to sixth man Durand Johnson, things got even worse. Mike Young leads the way, starting at power forward and playing nearly 22 minutes a game. Jamel Artis and Josh Newkirk aren't far behind, getting about 15 minutes off the bench. All told, that trio is playing about 25% of all of the Panthers' total minutes and really, that's just too many.
When it comes to new players stepping in right away, that trend will likely continue into next season.
Shaquille Doorson is a big (literally) unknown but at this stage in the game with such little depth up front, it's difficult to see him not playing right away. Then there's transfer Sheldon Jeter. Jeter actually brings a little experience, having played a season at Vanderbilt and will surely get minutes as well. With the loss of Lamar Patterson, he could even contend for the starting spot at small forward.
Ryan Luther, the third member of next year's class, could redshirt but even that may not be a slam dunk decision. Part of it may depend on just how long it takes Johnson to get back from injury.
Pitt is looking to add a fourth player as well and if it turns out to be a big man, there's a decent chance they see action if Uchebo isn't capable of taking on bigger minutes. If it's guard Kobie Eubanks, it's hard to see him not playing, either, since there's room for another shooting guard to get some minutes there.
With the departures of Patterson and Talib Zanna, next year figures to be another one where first-year players step in immediately based largely on need.
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