Last week, news dropped that Pitt was no longer going to be including JUCO player Troy Simons in its plans for next season. Simons was the top JUCO scorer and could have been a decent addition to next year's squad, given that it's going to be a very young team.
While academics were believed to be at fault, though, Simons' coach says that wasn't the problem. Rather, the issue (according to him) was that Pitt wasn't interested:
Furjanic, a Rankin native who formerly coached at Robert Morris and Pitt-Greensburg, said Simons is on track to graduate by June 20.
“Because Pitt didn't offer him a visit or a letter of intent, I felt it was in his best interests to look at other options because Pitt is making no attempt to sign him,” Furjanic said.
As I wrote in the initial article that Simons wasn't coming here, he was going to be visiting New Mexico. They wasted no time and have already signed him.
An Albuquerque Journal writer also spoke with Simons, who debunked the academics stuff.
.@ImUpNext3 Troy Simons said decommit from Pitt is not academics as a Pittsburgh paper cited from "source." Said it was lack of communication w/ coaches— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) April 17, 2017
Per that earlier Trib-Review link, all of this seems to stem from the fact that Pitt would not give him a visit or letter of intent because they don't do that with JUCO players until they graduate(?)
Chas over at Pitt Blather states that Simons' primary recruiter here was Jeremy Ballard, who you might remember, recently headed to VCU.
It's hard to know what to make of all of this. Pitt not only still has room for Simons, but without him, they actually have four open slots left. And that assumes that Rozelle Nix and Jonathan Milligan both make it back for next year. At this point, I'm not sure how much quality is out there to be had and if grades aren't the issue here, the top JUCO scorer seems like he might have been some help.
We might never get an answer as to the grades thing but if he's academically eligible and able to play at New Mexico, there will be a lot of head-scratching from Pitt fans. If Stallings truly doesn't believe he would be able to help the team, I'm fine with cutting ties. As I've said over and over, a coach has to have the kind of leeway to make decisions and bring his own players in. But given the number of open roster spots available and the fact that the primary recruiting time has passed, it makes you wonder how the Panthers will fill all of this open space.