Jeff Capel and the Pitt coaching staff had a productive couple of days, as their efforts saw Pitt emerge as a finalist for four recruits in a span of 72 hours. Elijah Taylor got the ball rolling by including Pitt in his top six on Saturday, and Myles Stute, Posh Alexander and John Hugley all followed suit with similar announcements over the next two days.
Taylor is a 6’8”, 215-pound power forward out of Imhotep Institute Charter High School in Philadelphia who holds three-star ratings from ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. The latter site also considers him the No. 153 prospect in the 2020 class, the No. 27 power forward and the No. 3 prospect in Pennsylvania.
The Imhotep product drew 10 offers and trimmed his list of finalists to six on Saturday. Florida, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall and VCU all made Taylor’s top six alongside Pitt. His notable cuts included Dayton, Penn State, Rutgers, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
“Offensively, he’s gotten way more aggressive,” Imhotep coach Andre Noble told E.J. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer in June. “He’s getting better. Just being a leader, he was always a good leader, but he’s trying to talk to younger kids more and more. I see growth in him. I’m proud of where he is.”
The second player to narrow their options was Stute, a 6’7”, 220-pound power forward out of Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Stute is a consensus three-star recruit, and Rivals has him ranked as the No. 137 prospect in the 2020 cycle.
Stute had 19 offers but will focus on a final seven of Clemson, Florida, Marquette, Pitt, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech. Schools that notably did not make the cut included Cincinnati, Georgetown, Iowa, Penn State, Seton Hall and Villanova.
“Coach Jeff Capel is a really good dude, and I love what he’s done with the program since he has been there,” Stute told Corey Evans of Rivals of his decision to include Pitt. “They’re building something special at Pitt, and I would love to be a part of it.”
After Stute came Alexander, who released a final five consisting of Dayton, Illinois, Pitt, Seton Hall and St. John’s on Monday evening.
The 5’10”, 190-pound point guard out of Our Saviour Lutheran School in the Bronx, New York, missed most of the 2018-19 season after suffering a broken arm, but he still managed to draw seven offers. Penn State was the most notable cut that he made.
ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports differ in terms of their opinion of Alexander, but by all accounts, he is among the top 160 recruits in the 2020 class. ESPN considers him the No. 83 prospect in the 2020 class and the No. 17 point guard. Rivals ranks him 123rd in his class and 26th at his position. And 247Sports sees him as the No. 156 player overall and the No. 18 at his position. Rivals and 247Sports have assigned him three-star ratings, while ESPN considers him a four-star recruit.
Hugley was the last of the four recruits to release his list of finalists, as his final 12 was posted on Monday night.
Blessed and highly favored. First I would like to thank god, my family and all my coaches who have helped me along the way. Thanks to all of the schools who have recruited me With that being said here is my top 12.. ONLY THE BEGINNING ‼️ pic.twitter.com/rG1LxawKVi— John Hugley IV (@thejohnhugley) July 23, 2019
Despite attracting attention from MAC schools early in his recruitment, the 6’8”, 240-pound center has shifted his focus solely to Major Seven schools. The Cleveland native also cut 10 of 11 schools in his home state of Ohio that offered him, including Ohio State and Xavier.
Pitt has been involved with Hugley since September 2018, when he had yet to be assigned a star rating by any recruiting site. He is now considered a four-star recruit and top-100 prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports, and Pitt’s head-start appears to have paid dividends for Capel and his staff. The 12 contenders for his services include Cincinnati, Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, Miami, Missouri, NC State, Nebraska, Penn State, Pitt, UConn and West Virginia.
There may also be more good news on the horizon for Pitt, as five-star center Hunter Dickinson, local recruit D.J. Gordon and four-star small forward Earl Timberlake all plan on naming their finalists later this week. Capel has offered each of the three recruits. In addition, Capel will host four-star point guard R.J. Davis for a visit on Aug. 1. Pitt appears to be in good standing with him as one of four schools he currently plans on visiting.