By Mychal Hunter
Since Jeff Capel took over the reigns of the Pittsburgh Panthers last offseason, there has been one glaring weakness on his roster: ACC caliber talent in the front court.
In fact, other than the 10 games Ryan Luther played last season, Pitt has not had a true back to the basket big man average double figures since 2013-14 when Talib Zanna averaged 13 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Capel has made the hunt for a big man a priority since his arrival. He made up a massive amount of ground with 5 star Armando Bacot before Bacot inevitably committed to UNC. He chased Isaiah Stewart (Washington), Akot Akot (UConn), Kofi Cockburn (Illinois) and Qudus Wahab (Georgetown) before all committed elsewhere. The fact that Pittsburgh was in the running for those players until the bitter end still remains impressive given Pitt’s lack of success in recent years.
Terrell Brown has shown some potential in the last couple weeks and Kene Chukwuka plays really hard, but neither have been consistent or tremendously effective this season.
Capel received some good news Friday when 3 star PF/C Karim Coulibaly committed to Pitt. Coulibaly is ranked 228th in the country and the #42 power forward. He is a bit undersized at 6’8, but is a true post player and has some spring. He may be a bit of a project, but he will be an upgrade in talent over Chukwuka, who moves on after this season.
Capel also landed his replacement for senior sniper Jared Wilson-Frame last week as 4 star wing Gerald Drumgoole committed to the Panthers as well. Drumgoole comes from basketball power house La Lumiere in Indiana, but is a New York kid. Capel is obviously making re-opening that New York pipeline that made Pitt such a success in it’s Big East days.
Drumgoole is a 6’5 wing that can stroke it from deep and take it to the rack. He chose basketball over football where he was a major D1 prospect at tight end.
With the upcoming loss of Wilson-Frame and Sidy N’Dir, as well as the transfer of Shamiel Stevenson during the first semester, you may see Drumgoole receive his opportunity sooner rather than later. Capel has played “his guys” heavy minutes this year and I would expect that trend to continue.