Under former head coach Jamie Dixon, Pitt freshmen rarely made big impacts. The Panthers’ system was built as such that the team was generally led by upperclassmen who improved during the course of their career. That made for a somewhat sustainable system and allowed the program to give their freshmen time to adjust to college basketball.
The system worked well for the most part but with recruiting issues over the last few years under Dixon as well as some transfers, Pitt finds itself in a unique situation. Pitt graduated its best players last year and lost almost the rest of the team to transfers meaning that freshman are needing to play bigger roles than usual. Leading the way are guards Marcus Carr and Shamiel Stevenson.
Carr and Stevenson aren’t only playing, but their two of the team’s best players. Carr is third in scoring with 12.0 ppg while Stevenson is right behind him at fourth with 10.8 ppg. Carr also leads the team in assists (3.8 ppg) while Stevenson is second in rebounds (5.1 rpg) behind only senior Ryan Luther.
That freshmen are posting higher than usual numbers isn’t unexpected. Simply put, there are a lot of minutes to go around and freshmen are playing much more. As a result, they’re producing more. Of note is that they’re probably the program’s most productive freshmen in a decade. The last time Pitt had a true freshman doing so much was DeJuan Blair in 2007-08. That season, Blair scored 11.6 ppg while leading the team in rebounding with a 9.1 rpg average.
Many of the team’s younger players are still relative question marks. But Carr and Stevenson look like sure things for the program going forward.