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Kennedy Catholic basketball standouts decide against Pitt

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Oscar Tshiebwe and Maceo Austin are down to a few finalists, and Pitt is out

PittsburghPanthers.com

Kennedy Catholic guard Maceo Austin, a consensus three-star 2019 recruit, trimmed his list of potential colleges down to four on Wednesday afternoon, and Pitt did not make the cut.

Austin drew interest from at least seven schools and chose to focus on Duquesne, Northwestern, Penn State and VCU for the remainder of his recruitment. He cast aside offers from Virginia, West Virginia and Xavier in addition to Pitt, who offered him on Sept. 11, 2017.

However, that date is a meaningful detail in this case, as it was former Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings who decided to offer Austin rather than Jeff Capel, who currently helms the team. However, Capel did show interest in both Austin and his teammate, four-star center Oscar Tshiebwe, as his first recruiting trip was to see the pair play up in Hermitage, Pennsylvania.

After the visit, Austin told Mike Vukovcan of Pittsburgh Sports Now, “Coach Capel coming in here definitely has opened my eyes to Pitt. … Pitt is now a high consideration.”

With that said, Capel went on to land 2018 guards Curtis Aiken Jr., Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens on the recruiting trail in addition to picking up New Mexico State transfer Sidy N’Dir. He also got confirmation that Malik Ellison would be staying at Pitt, leaving him with an abundance of talent at the position and likely diminishing his need for Austin to come aboard.

Unfortunately, Pitt’s frontcourt needs have yet to be addressed, and Tshiebwe seemed like a logical option to fill that glaring hole on the Panthers roster. However, he trimmed his list down to eight schools on Tuesday and also decided against attending Pitt in the coming year.

Tshiebwe decided to proceed with Baylor, Georgetown, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Virginia and West Virginia after receiving at least a dozen offers, including one from Pitt on July 22, 2017. The news was a surprise, as the 6’9” center previously gave Capel a glowing review.

“I’ve never met a coach like him before,” he told Vukovcan. “I think he’s going to bring Pitt’s program back, and they’ll be good. I like him.”

However, it’s worth noting Tshiebwe’s roots in the Pittsburgh metro area aren’t especially deep, as he came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2015. Given that fact, this development isn’t quite on par with missing out on a bona fide homegrown talent.

Of course, landing Tshiebwe, a rising star in the 2019 class who is currently considered the top player in Pennsylvania, would have made a statement about Pitt’s standing in recruiting circles. But with him no longer in the mix, Capel will have to explore other frontcourt options for 2019.