ICYMI, Paul Zeise of the Post-Gazette had a really packed update on Pitt basketball - be sure to head over and check it out. Among other tidbits that I hadn't touched on yet (i.e. Pitt to play Davidson this year, Ontario Lett joining the staff, and the annual summer Pro Am league being cancelled (Stephen will have more on that later), Zeise threw out this semi-bombshell:
The fifth newcomer, transfer forward Rafael Maia, has not enrolled yet as there are some snags and some challenges that have come up. Dixon said he thinks they are all issues that can be worked through but as of right now he isn’t able to enroll.
Ironically, the player a lot of fans were concerned about qualifying, Damon Wilson, is enrolled. Maia's potential loss, as Zeise later says, would be significant.
The reason is because of the big men the team added (he, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, and Rozelle Nix), he may have been the one most ready to step in and contribute. As Jim touched on upon his announced transfer, he's played fairly well against better competition. He doesn't have the look of a star, but it would be a surprise if he didn't at least contribute. And as a senior, he brings plenty of experience to the table.
Pitt does have some options down low. Nix and Nelson-Ododa aren't guaranteed busts, but the problem Pitt is facing is that none of the three looked like slam dunks in terms of production. When you remove even one of those options, Pitt could again be facing very real frontcourt issues that force them to continue playing Mike Young in the middle for long stretches. The Panthers really need as many options as possible to help share the load and hopefully one of them steps up and becomes 'a player.'
Hopefully whatever the issue is it can be cleared up in advance of the season starting. You'd hate to see the team's depth cut already.