Earlier today, 2015 basketball recruit Cheick Diallo picked Kansas over Pitt, Kentucky, St. John's, and Iowa State. After the announcement, which he made on Twitter, he spoke about why he picked the Jayhawks.
Diallo's words after the announcement were somewhat telling:
"I felt like Kansas was the best place for me," said Diallo, a 6-foot-9 power forward. "I can earn playing time right away. I played against Joel Embiid in high school and watched his development. I need to work on a lot of things and feel coach [Bill] Self can help my game. On my visit, the campus was great and the people were nice. I could see myself there."
The campus and people were nice? Yep, that's fine. The playing time? Whatever. We all know Pitt could have offered that so that isn't where things went south for the Panthers. The key thing in there is his acknowledgment of the development of Joel Embiid.
To be fair, many players have grown under Jamie Dixon. Steven Adams was still coming into his own by the time he left Pitt, but in his one year here, he got significantly better by the end of the season. And Talib Zanna was another big man who developed nicely. Go back a few years and you'll see guys like Gary McGhee and Aaron Gray getting better under Dixon, too. But you wonder if the other recent examples hurt.
There was the loss of Khem Birch a few years ago. Regardless of who was more at fault, Dixon or Birch, whenever a player of his caliber leaves before even completing a full season, it simply looks bad. Dante Taylor never came close to the type of player he was expected to be. There was Tyrone Haughton riding the bench this past season, despite the Panthers' blatant need of frontcourt help. Joseph Uchebo was a rare case since he's just not the same player since his injury before coming to Pitt, but Derrick Randall was also another player that didn't improve during his two seasons with the Panthers, either.
I'm not saying - I'm just saying.
Pitt has a track record of players improving but they simply can't match the likes of Kansas in terms of churning out draft picks. Few programs can, actually. That's always going to be an issue for Pitt when they run into stiff competition for the better players out there. And until Pitt wins more and gets more of a reputation of developing first-round picks, they'll always be at a disadvantage when it comes to landing players like Diallo.
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