At the stroke of midnight, when Sunday gave way to Monday, the NCAA gave basketball coaches the green light to contact 2022 recruits, setting off a flood of recruiting activity. Pitt head coach Jeff Capel was among those in the fray, as he reached out to 13 recruits, offering three. The three had qualities in common as well, as they were all high-level in-state prospects with four-star ratings.
The in-state trio consisted of Dereck Lively II, a 6’11”, 200-pound center out of the Westtown School in West Chester; Chance Westry, a 6’4”, 190-pound shooting guard out of Trinity High School in Camp Hill; and Justice Williams, a 6’3”, 170-pound shooting guard out of Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia. The Lively and Williams offers were reported by Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers, and Andrew Slater of The Athletic reported the Westry offer.
All three recruits are consensus four-star prospects, and they are considered three of the top five players in Pennsylvania in the 2021 class. Williams, Westry and Lively are ranked second, third and fourth in the state, according to 247Sports and ESPN. In fact, the only difference of opinion on the trio is whether they are all in the national top 30, as 247Sports contends; the national top 40, as ESPN argues; or the national top 50, as Rivals believes.
In any case, all three are roughly on par with Jalen Hood-Schifino, the four-star point guard who committed to Pitt on Dec. 30, 2019. Hood-Schifino, a Pittsburgh native currently playing in North Carolina, is ranked between 24th in the country (ESPN) and 34th (Rivals) and is the cornerstone Capel is building around. He figures to be the replacement for Xavier Johnson, who will be finished at Pitt in 2022 barring unforeseen circumstances, and Capel’s emphasis on shooting guards reveals a desire to find a player to complement Hood-Schifino.
The two Pennsylvania shooting guards to receive offers are both accomplished even though they’re not yet upperclassmen, as Westry averaged 23.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game at Trinity last season and Williams averaged 19.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game at Roman Catholic. Both prospects could pair well with Hood-Schifino, who averaged 15.6 points, 6.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game at the Combine Academy in North Carolina last season.
Aside from Westry and Williams, Capel also reached out to Alphonso Billups, Roddy Gayle Jr. and Judah Mintz, all of whom are listed as shooting guards. He also touched base with point guards Jaden Bradley and Christian Watson, bringing Pitt’s total calls to backcourt recruits on Monday up to seven. With that said, the frontcourt was not ignored, as two centers, two power forwards and two small forwards were contacted. The small forwards included Tyler Nickel and Chisom Okpara, the power forwards included Gregg Glenn and N.D. Okafor, and the centers included seven-footer Matt Filipowski and the aforementioned Dereck Lively II. And as one might expect, Lively was the most notable of the bunch.
Lively was a teammate of current Panther Noah Collier at Westtown, and the two led the Moose to a 72-59 win over Malvern for the PAISSA state title in February. The 6'11" center contributed 10 points to the effort and played a key role in the absence of fellow 6’11” center Franck Kepnang. However, while connections like that never hurt, they don't always help, as Pitt was also interested in Westtown combo guard Jalen Warley but failed to make his final 10 earlier this month. Time will tell if Pitt fares better with Lively than it did with Warley.