Jeff Capel and the Pitt coaching staff opened up the month of August with a win, as they advanced in the recruitment of Alphonzo Billups, a coveted small forward out of Varina High School in Henrico, Virginia. Pitt, a program that has long been involved with Billups, made his top six on Sunday, along with LSU, NC State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and VCU.
The 6’7”, 180-pound small forward has received more than 20 offers over the course of his recruitment, and some of his most notable cuts included Clemson, Florida, La Salle, Ole Miss, Richmond, St. John’s, Temple, Virginia Tech and Wichita State.
Billups holds three-star ratings from Rivals and 247Sports. However, both outlets have him on the brink of four-star status. Rivals ranks Billups as the No. 117 prospect in the 2022 class, which leaves him three spots lower than the lowest-rated four-star recruit and 14 down from four-star Pitt commit Judah Mintz. The outlet also considers him the No. 33 small forward and the No. 8 recruit in Virginia.
As for 247Sports, the website ranks Billups No. 149 in the nation, No. 22 at his position and No. 8 in Virginia. His exact rating is also an 89, meaning he is one point off from attaining a four-star rating from 247Sports.
Billups was talented enough to make the varsity team at Varina as a freshman, but he did not become nationally sought-after until a breakout 2019-20 season in which he averaged 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks per game and earned all-state honors while leading Varina to a 19-5 record.
VCU, a school in Billups’ hometown of Richmond, Virginia, was the first program to extend the recruit a scholarship offer on May 7, 2020. Pitt did not offer Billups until more than a year later, on June 24, 2021. But despite the later offer, Billups has been in contact with the Pitt staff for months and has built a rapport with Pitt assistant coach Milan Brown.
“Coach Brown has probably been the most consistent coach in terms of keeping in touch with me and checking on me,” Billups told George Michalowski of Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Because of that, I just thought that an offer would eventually come. Coach had been telling me that he’s from my area and after watching me, he said he knows what I’m capable of and what I could potentially bring to Pitt, if I decided to go there.”
Should Billups choose Pitt, he would find himself in good company, as fellow DMV standout Judah Mintz committed in June. The program is also in the top three of Sean Jones, a four-star point guard out of Gahanna, Ohio, who could take the class to the next level. Landing all three recruits would net Capel his most promising class since 2020, when he brought in the four-star duo of John Hugley and William Jeffress. But time will tell if that comes to pass, as the program will have to wait on decisions from both Jones and Billups.