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New to the Zoo: Nate Santos commits to Pitt

The three-star small forward is the first member of Pitt's 2021 recruiting class

After a long wait, Jeff Capel landed the first member of Pitt’s 2021 class on Tuesday night, as Nate Santos, a coveted small forward out of the Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut, committed to the program. ESPN recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein was the first to report Santos’ commitment to the Panthers.

The 6’7”, 200-pound wing holds three-star ratings from 247Sports and Rivals, and the former considers him the No. 40 small forward recruit in the 2021 class as well as the No. 2 prospect out of Connecticut. In addition, Santos’ three-star rating from 247Sports is just under the four-star threshold, as his score of 88 is just two points shy of the next level.

Santos may have reached that next level had he not suffered a torn ACL in 2019. However, the injury shortened his first season at the Loomis Chaffee School after his transfer from Geneva High School in Illinois. It also saw his stock take a hit, although it did recover.

Over the course of his recruitment, Santos drew scholarship offers from more than a dozen schools and ultimately chose between Pitt and George Washington. Some of the other programs that pursued him included Creighton, Dayton, Drake, ECU, Georgetown, Illinois, Illinois State, Iona, Milwaukee, New Mexico, Ole Miss, TCU, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Yale.

Santos has earned a reputation as a versatile scorer and a stout defender, but the most common refrain about his game is that he has a reliable shot and can be counted on to contribute from the perimeter. That makes him a vital addition to the Pitt roster, as the team is known for its mediocrity from beyond the arc.

While the addition of Santos is a step in the right direction for Capel and the Pitt staff, it is just the first of many that will be needed to get the Panthers back on track, as the team has lost five players to transfers since February.

With that said, Pitt is also believed to be in an enviable position in the recruitment of five-star 2021 center Efton Reid and could return Justin Champagnie, who is currently mulling entry into the NBA draft. And if Pitt manages to get John Hugley back in the fold, the team could have a solid frontcourt to pair with experienced guards Nike Sibande and Ithiel Horton, both of whom are expected back at Pitt this fall.