Jeff Capel and the Pitt coaching staff were focused on building up their 2020 recruiting class on Wednesday, as offers went out to four-star point guard Andre Curbelo and three-star shooting guard D.J. Gordon. Coaches from Pitt also paid visits to five-star center Hunter Dickinson, four-star shooting guard Earl Timberlake and four-star point guard Ethan Morton, the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania for the 2020 recruiting cycle.
Of particular interest to Capel and his staff was Morton, a longtime Pitt target and a native of Butler, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Pittsburgh. And as a result, he received a visit from Coach Capel himself and was updated on Pitt’s evolving backcourt situation, which he discussed afterward.
”[Capel] told me that there’s more of a sense of urgency now for him to get a point guard in my class just because of the fact that it seems that after the year that Xavier Johnson had — and if he continues to grow and get better — there’s a chance he could be gone to the NBA after next season,” Morton told Mike Vukovcan of Pittsburgh Sports Now. “That’s something that may not happen, but as a coaching staff, they need to prepare for that.”
During his junior season, Morton averaged 27.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game and led Butler to the WPIAL 6A championship game. For his efforts, he was named to the USA Today All-Pennsylvania first team as well as the Maxpreps Junior All-American third team. He currently holds offers from at least 20 schools, including Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Stanford and Virginia in addition to Pitt. In the event that he committed to Pitt, he would likely take on a prominent role on the team sooner rather than later.
”Any situation you go to, there’s going to be guys at your position that you’re going to have to battle with,” Morton said. “You’re never going to walk into a situation where you’re the only guy. I will say that when [Capel] brought up Johnson’s situation, you can see that their point guard position might need filled. I’m sure they might even try and address that situation in their 2019 class. But looking at it, it’s definitely appealing. It seems like all the talent they’re collecting that will surround the guard and help him out, it seems like it’s going in a positive direction.”
Capel, a former guard at Duke from 1993 to 1997, has emphasized the importance of a solid backcourt and built his team around Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens. Given that and the limited collegiate shelf life of a player as talented as Johnson, it’s not difficult to see how Morton — a player with the talent to become an ACC floor general — figures into his plans for Pitt. And the fact that Pitt still looms large in Morton’s mind with his recruitment heating up bodes well for Capel’s vision.
Of course, with all that said, Morton is not in any rush to make a decision and noted that it could take until fall, adding, “That’s the latest that I would decide.” However, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making an earlier announcement in the event that he comes to a decision ahead of schedule.