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Pitt pursues new group of frontcourt targets

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Four new names have emerged in Pitt's search for frontcourt recruits

Matt Hawley

Jeff Capel and the Pitt coaching staff have struck out with a number of frontcourt recruits over the past few months, and the latest, Khadim Sy, briefly appeared to be the last realistic option on the table. However, four new bigs have come onto the market and piqued Capel’s interest to varying degrees.

The first recruit to emerge as a potential contingency plan for Pitt was John Ojiako, a 6’10” center out of Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida. Capel extended him an offer on May 4, and it was revealed by his AAU team, Team Thrill, that he had reclassified from 2020 to 2019. However, his recruitment has picked up steam since that announcement, and Pitt will have to fend off the likes of LSU and Virginia Tech in order to sign him.

Another player Pitt has reached out to is Rodney Howard, an Ole Miss recruit who backed off his commitment shortly after Sy committed to the Rebels. The 6’10” center holds three-star ratings from 247Sports and Rivals, both of which consider him one of the top 40 centers of the 2019 cycle. However, his recruitment is moving quickly, as he has already scheduled a visit to Georgia Tech for May 25. It’s also notable that he played AAU ball in Atlanta, geographically linking him to Georgia Tech, and Pitt has yet to offer him.

An opportunity also arose in conference, as 7’0” center Charles Coleman decomitted from Wake Forest on Monday. Coleman is considered a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports and Rivals. However, while Rivals considers him the No. 34 center in the nation, giving him a two-spot edge over Howard, 247Sports places him at No. 62. Pitt offered Coleman on Wednesday, but so did Duke. Georgia and UConn both offered on Tuesday. So while Pitt is in the mix for Coleman, Capel faces stiff competition for his services.

One recruit Pitt has already made progress with is Josaphat Bilau, a 6’10” power forward out of Spire Academy in Geneva, Ohio. Bilau holds a three-star rating from Rivals and has an impressive offer sheet. He also took an unofficial visit to Pitt last weekend, according to Jim Hammett of Panther-Lair.com, and he plans to announce his college decision in two weeks. However, Pitt faces competition from Wake Forest, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

As the uniformity of the new list of targets indicates, the frontcourt remains Pitt’s top priority, as the team’s lack of size hindered it in ACC competition last season. In addition, Pitt bigs Kene Chukwuka and Terrell Brown both struggled to varying extents, which further necessitated additions this offseason.

Chukwuka found himself in foul trouble often and struggled to score. Brown contributed occassionally but was also known for his inconsistency. Given their issues and Pitt’s lack of depth behind them, incoming recruits can expect to compete for minutes upon their arrival on campus, and a starting role is by no means out of the question.