Just when it appeared there might be some stability with the recent Pitt basketball additions, there's at least one more exit as center Rozelle Nix has decided to take his game elsewhere.
Nix will have one year of eligibility left and should be able to play immediately as a grad transfer.
If you're wondering when this vicious cycle will end, well, this might be it. Jonathan Milligan remains as a question mark but the Post-Gazette's Craig Meyer says he could return:
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Jonathan Milligan's back next season, so this may, just may be the end of Pitt's offseason transfers.— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) May 8, 2017
The Nix departure is not completely unexpected. He did play some last year but that was largely because the Panthers were in such a bind losing Ryan Luther for much of the season and not really having any other options down low to back up Michael Young.
Nix's exit, of course, is not the end of the world. Not only that, but it's barely a blip on the radar screen of Pitt's problems. Sure, he's one of the few players from last year's team that was left to potentially return but the 1.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game will hardly be missed.
It can even be argued that Pitt will be better off playing a younger body because, at the very worst, they should get some experience and be able to produce as much as Nix did. And while I know there's angst about not wanting to throw young/inexperienced guys to the wolves next season, next season is basically a lost cause. And I'm not going to get up in arms about a project having to play immediately and burning a year of eligibility. If Pitt is going to return to any sort of level of prominence, they're going to need better recruits than the ones they're getting, anyway. It's a moot point in my mind.
None of that even mentions that Pitt still has several scholarship spots still open - at least three and possibly four if Zach Smith goes back to walk-on status, per the PG. If playing Peace Ilegomah is really such a problem, there are plenty of spots to bring another body in. I think the whole thing about keeping Nix for depth concerns are kind of overblown.
That isn't to say his contributions this past year weren't appreciated. Nix was, at times, one of the few players who looked like he was giving 100% out there. It was refreshing to see him come into games and do whatever he could try to make things happen. Heck, sometimes he did make things happen. But as I said during the season a few times, he just didn't look like an ACC caliber player. Nix's motions were all over the place sometimes and his defensive recovery after being lulled away from the basket was so bad that it was actually something to be hold.
Great guy, great effort - just not enough talent/agility to play consistently well in the ACC (which, by the way, is hardly an indictment).
In the end, this is almost certainly about Nix hoping to play more than it is an indictment on Kevin Stallings for losing another player. Nix should be able to do that if he drops down a level in competition and doesn't have to face guys quite as athletic as what he saw this season.
If you're trying to keep up here, Pitt has either three or four spots available, depending on what happens with walk-on Zach Smith and his scholarship.