Amid a tough start to the season and a bleak outlook for the program in general, Pitt was granted a glimmer of hope for the future on Sunday afternoon, as Jeff Capel and the Pitt coaching staff landed a commitment from Marlon Barnes, a talented small forward out of Brush High School in the Cleveland area.
The 6’6”, 180-pound small forward holds four-star ratings from Rivals and ESPN, while 247Sports considers him a three-star prospect. Rivals ranks Barnes as the No. 79 recruit in the 2023 class. However, Barnes is not ranked in the ESPN 100 and comes in at No. 136 overall in the 247Sports composite rankings.
Despite generally positive reviews from the three major national recruiting outlets, Barnes only drew three reported offers, with the other two programs to offer being Cleveland State and Miami. However, Pitt was the only program of those three that Barnes visited, as he took trips to Pittsburgh in June and September.
The move could reunite Barnes with a former teammate in John Hugley, provided Hugley remains on the Pitt roster by the start of the 2023-24 season. Barnes and Hugley played together at Brush in the 2019-20 season, when Barnes was a freshman and Hugley was a senior. Given that connection, Hugley played a key role in recruiting Barnes, along with Jason Capel, and the potential reunion was a selling point for the four-star prospect.
“He wants me there badly,” Barnes said of Hugley in September, per Panther-Lair.com. “We only got to play together for one year in high school, so being able to play together in college would be really cool. He always says how crazy it would be if two guys from Brush would end up at the same college.”
If Barnes and Hugley get the opportunity to play together, it could pay off for Pitt. Brush went 19-6 and a perfect 12-0 in league play the last time the two took the court together. And this season, Barnes has led Brush to a 9-2 record after spending last season playing at Ypsi Prep Academy in Ypsilanti, Michigan, alongside elite prospect Emoni Bates.