By Mychal Hunter
Look, I run off at the mouth sometimes. It happens. I own that shit. Most of the time it’s because I am trying to make you guys laugh. Right now, I want to say something serious:
Jeff Capel is recruiting at a level that I didn’t think was possible this soon after being hired.
The former Durham duffel bag boy has always had the reputation as a high level recruiter and gets the nod as the point man in the obvious change in recruiting philosophy of Coach K. Nobody disputes/disputed that.
But this is Pittsburgh, not Duke. This is a program that has gone 4-32 the last two seasons in the ACC. Also, while I am not a huge fan of Durham as a city, it certainly ranks higher than the brutal winters of western Pennsylvania (which I experienced for a couple of years a while back). All of that said, Capel is still living up to his reputation.
In just a few short months Coach Capel was able to apparently steal Trey McGowens from Clemson and land Xavier Johnson after he de-committed from Nebraska. Both of which are immediate talent upgrades to a roster that was second worst in the ACC to only Boston College according to Verbal Recruits roster star page. Then, in June he lands one of the best remaining players in the 2018 class in Au’Diese Toney over schools like Virginia Tech, Providence and Virginia.
If those recruiting wins don’t impress you, think about the ground he has made up while pursuing his second class. Currently, Pitt is in the thick of the hunt for talented big men Aidan Igiehon (final 10), Kofi Cockburn (final 12), Qudus Wahab (Final 12) and Tre Mitchell. Pitt is also actively pursuing rising stars Jalen Gaffney and Chris Ledlum. The Panthers even popped up in an article as one of the first programs in on Real Madrid junior team member Kareem Queeley, who is said to be considering attending college in the U.S.
The point being, 12 months ago Pitt had almost zero traction with these recruits. If Coach Capel is able to land even one of those big men along with a player like Ledlum, that is a great follow up class to the 2018 group.
If this trend continues, you expect Capel to make a serious splash, or splashes, with his 2020 class at the LATEST. There is certainly still time to reel in a huge 2019 class given CJC’s ability.
I certainly have concerns with his (rumored) methods and I do wonder about his on court coaching, but as far as assembling talent he is top notch and that will win over the hearts and minds of the Pittsburgh faithful in the short term.
Right now, after one of the most ridiculous fire/hires in the history of college basketball, the Pittsburgh athletic department has to be thrilled with the decision they made.
By the way, I realize Jamie Dixon wasn’t fired, but he also wasn’t dragging anyone on his right leg out the door when he left PA.