Pitt basketball head coach Kevin Stallings came to Pitt with an empty cupboard, according to many of his (dwindling amount of) supporters. That cupboard looks to be nothing compared to the one he has for next season. Aaron Thompson, one of the team's few potential bright spots left says, well, he gone:
The turnover that has decimated Pitt’s roster the past two months has stripped coach Kevin Stallings of his 2016 recruiting class, one he inherited from former coach Jamie Dixon, and his leading returning scorer.
Now, that list of past Panthers includes his very first recruit.
Guard Aaron Thompson, regarded as one of the top players in Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, was granted a release from his national letter of intent, the school announced Friday. Thompson committed to the Panthers in May 2016, about five weeks after Stallings was introduced as the program’s new coach.
If you're counting at home, that leaves five open spots on the roster for next year.
Make no mistake here. Thompson is not a five-star recruit and not the kind of guy that was going to save Pitt's 2017-18 season from being a dumpster fire. That was basically sealed with the graduation of four starters and the loss of the fifth, Cam Johnson, to a transfer. But he was touted as a guy that would be a key piece in the team's rebuilding and what shouldn't be lost here is just how ridiculous this is becoming. This was a player that committed to Stallings for crying out loud. A guy that once was sold on what Stallings brought is now jumping ship before he even plays a single game.
The real problem, of course, is not the impact that Thompson would have had on next year's team. As I said, that team wasn't likely to be very good, anyway. The problem is that players cannot seem to run away from Stallings fast enough. I am not going to sit here and theorize about why that is. But with the departure of Cam, the other transfers, and now a Stallings guy in Thompson, it's abundantly clear that guys are very concerned about the prospect of not only rebuilding, but doing so under Stallings. None of that, of course, even addresses the mind-boggling situation the team had with the recent defection of the top JUCO scorer Troy Simons, who all but said Pitt was basically not interested in him anymore.
I mean, what is this?
Cam's departure was a little easier to understand given that his clock is ticking. He has two seasons left and wants to be on a winning team. That wasn't going to be the case next year, meaning he'd really have one chance at that as a senior. But in the case of Thompson, it wreaks of not having confidence that it's going to get better beyond that. Plenty of recruits sign on for rebuilding projects. That Thompson is running away from that is another reason to wonder exactly where all of this is headed.
Pitt basketball is not in good shape right now, folks. Many, in fact, would argue that it's not in good hands, either.