We continue breaking down the entire Pitt basketball roster and reviewing their season while taking a look ahead to next year as well. I have JD with me today to help take a look at Sheldon Jeter. JD is most famous for being the former VP of the Oakland Zoo, but he has also spent some time for us covering some basketball games in person. So it goes without saying, follow this man if you do not already, and here is his breakdown of Pitt sophomore forward, Sheldon Jeter.
Final Stat Line - 4.7 Points. 2.5 rebounds. 47% Field Goal 37% Three-point
Best Game - 22 points and 4 rebounds in a 89-76 upset win over North Carolina
Worst Game - Jeter failed to appear in the Duquesne/St. Bonaventure games due to a coach's decision.
JD, much of the season Jeter spent his time towards the end of the bench until a breakout performance against Syracuse (18 points/5 rebounds), which led to him starting the final ten games of the season. What do you make of that turnaround? What flipped the switch for Jeter?
I think the biggest thing for Jeter was confidence. Many people that watched him play at Vanderbilt and in high school knew that Jeter had the ability to score and contribute at this level, but that it might take a while for him to get into the swing of things. I think Jeter even said himself after he started contributing that he was worried about making a mistake, and getting put on the bench. Eventually Dixon gave him a longer leash, and Jeter seemed to take full advantage of it.
As you noted he averaged 4.7 points per game this year, but including that breakout Syracuse game, he averaged 8.5 points after that. That's a really great contribution down the stretch. He tailored off towards the end a little bit, but the entire team did so it's hard to take that too seriously.
Once we started to get an extended look at Jeter during the end of the season, we saw a lot of promise. He has the ability to shoot, is another lengthy defender, and is one of the best athletes on the team. Do you expect his progression to continue into next season with another year in the program?
I think it should continue. He might not get quite as as many minutes, but I definitely think he'll perform at a similar level as he did the second half of ACC play. Pitt really needs somebody who's not afraid to take the ball and dunk it over somebody, and Jeter is capable of that. I don't think Pitt has had that type of player since Gilbert Brown, and it's one I think they have sorely needed.
Pitt usually has one player take a big leap forward in the off-season. This past year it was Jamel Artis, and I think Jeter would be on the shortlist of players most likely to take that step. After having another year in the system the game should come more naturally to him.
Can Jeter start heading into next season? Obviously we do not the final roster just yet, but do you see it as a possibility of having Jeter in the starting five next season?
I think that solely depends on if Pitt signs a starting center or not. If Pitt got say Cheik Diallo, or a 5th year graduate transfer like Mike Thorne, or if Rozelle Nix is ready to contribute sooner than we think - it would shift everything.
If Pitt does get that starting caliber center next year, I think that moves Mike Young to his natural position of four which would push Jamel Artis to the wing, which likely pushes Jeter out of the lineup. Depending on who starts at shooting guard, having Jeter off the bench combined with Durand Johnson/Chris Jones as a spark is not a bad place to be. Pitt sorely lacked talented depth in the front court, and I think having a legitimate starting center along with Young and Artis allows other guys like Jeter to provide great depth there.
And finally, what areas of Jeter's game would you like to see improved heading into 2016?
I mentioned Gilbert Brown earlier, and Jeter might already have one of Brown's more famous traits: inconsistency. Brown was the kind of player that could score 30 or score 3 points depending on the game. Jeter doesn't quite have that window, but he was a little up and down this past season.
Jeter had his best game against North Carolina with 22 points, and then went scoreless against Wake Forrest (had 9 rebounds though) and Florida State, which is odd considering the talent levels of those three teams. Jeter already has a lot to contribute the team, first and foremost being an athletic guy that can get out ahead of a fast break. He just needs to not be quite as up and down scoring wise. I think most are excited about his ceiling, though.