The sun has officially set on Pitt's basketball season with the team's loss to George Washington on Tuesday, but not before a bit of news broke. ESPN's Jeff Goodman had this on Twitter:
Do not expect Pittsburgh big man Tyrone Haughton and Joe Uchebo to be with program next season, sources told ESPN. Both juniors.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 17, 2015
Many figured one might be gone from the roster. Uchebo barely contributed to the team this season while Haughton didn't at all. And with as thin as Pitt was in the middle, forcing power forward Mike Young to center, it wasn't due to a glut of depth there.
Seeing both gone is a bit of a surprise, but in my opinion, pretty welcome news. Those moves should thrust JUCO center Rozelle Nix into the mix, though how much he plays immediately is unknown. Uchebo dazzled everyone in the summer league last year, but as we've seen time and again, that's no measure of how guys will perform in the regular season (see Dante Taylor as one example).
Pitt needs help in the middle, but IMO, needs those scholarships even more. Fact is, (and with all due respect to both, since bashing college kids isn't high up on my priority list) no matter who the team manages to bring in, it's not likely going to be a downgrade from those guys.
The question is what the team does with them. Obviously, there's still some hope of landing Cheick Diallo - a legit five-star recruit for this year. Diallo is being pursued by, well, everybody. The Panthers can surely offer him the opportunity to start from Day 1, but so can many other schools.
After that, the Panthers are after several other guys in the 2015 class, including highly-touted big men Caleb Swanigan and Georgios Papagiannis.
The other option, of course, is to carry one or both of those slots over until next year. While that's somewhat of an attractive option, Pitt really needs to nab at least one more big man for this class in my opinion. If not, their options in the middle will again come down to Young or Nix. With Derrick Randall and Aron Phillips-Nwankwo officially out of eligibility used up, that's it. Keeping Young there represents a good possibility for more problems in the paint and Nix is an unknown. The Panthers really need at least one more option down low to also serve as a backstop for an injury or foul trouble.
I don't see any way the team can go into 2015-16 with Nix the only addition in the middle ... at least I hope not.
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