As we learned a while ago, new Pitt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings was able to retain all of the team's incoming recruits for the 2016-17 season. Those incoming freshmen, per the head coach, will also get a chance to play. Immediately.
Stallings said the door is open for incoming recruits Justice Kithcart, Crisshawn Clark and Corey Manigault to play right away next season.
"If a freshman comes in, and he's the best guy to help us win, he'll be the guy," Stallings said. "All three of them could be in the mix."
That's not too surprising and most coaches take that stance. It allows them to go to future recruits and pitch the idea that they can contribute immediately. Saying anything otherwise, really, is what would be alarming.
That trio could also be joined by another freshman. Pitt has one additional scholarship to use and Stallings says the program plans to do just that.
Stallings said he would consider filling Pitt's final scholarship for next season with a high school player or a transfer and didn't rule out that player being a graduate transfer.
"We're going to try to fill it. I'd love to get somebody to come in and impact our team," Stallings said. "We'd like to find another big. Those are the hardest guys to find."
I'm a bit on the fence about adding a high school player at this point. Unless you can get a quality guy (which, how many are left at this point?) that really fits, it's often better to go with a graduate transfer that only eats up the scholarship for one year, freeing it up for next season. Sure, you can add a true freshman and take his scholarship away if things don't work out, but the transfer issue is one that's dogged the program for the past several years and one of the biggest reasons for the program's slide lately.
Back to the original point, though. Kithcart definitely should fit that bill as the program is looking for a new point guard with the departure of James Robinson. He, Damon Wilson (who Stallings says he still sees at point guard), and, depending on where he plays, Jonathan Milligan, will get a chance to fill that role. At this point, it would be hard not seeing Kithcart playing a role. One thing to remember here is that, as Stallings mentioned in that article, he recruited Kithcart at Vanderbilt. He already has some idea of how he fits in his offense and that's a good thing.
Manigault, regarded as a Top 150ish player, is an interesting fit. He could find a lot of playing time difficult if he stays at power forward. The team's best player, Michael Young, occupies that spot and should play a healthy dose of minutes. Part of how much Manigault plays will be decided on what Pitt does at center. If Ryan Luther and Rozelle Nix can eat up minutes there, it will mean that Young plays mostly at power forward. But Manigault also could play at center and fill in there if those guys can't hold down the position.
Clark could have the most trouble playing right away assuming he remains at shooting guard. Pitt has some depth there with last year's starter Chris Jones and Cameron Johnson returning. There's even more depth if Milligan and/or Wilson play at all there. Of the Panthers' three incoming recruits, Clark is the least heralded one and could find immediate playing time sparse.
All told, you can expect this group to play a bit this year.