December 2, 2020

Independent analysis and commentary on UVA athletics

ACC Offseason Refresh – #11 Pittsburgh

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The long slow rebuild from the rock-bottom of the Kevin Stallings era continues at Pittsburgh. The 2019-20 season was another incremental step forward for Jeff Capel’s club, who did finish tied for last in the ACC but at the same time did increase their conference win total by a few games. They’ll be looking for another measurable step forward this year with a lot of the roster returning.

Coach: Jeff Capel III; 205-146 in 11 Seasons Overall; 30-36 (9-29) in 2 seasons at Pitt

2019-20 Record: 16-17 (6-14); T-13th in ACC

2019-20 KenPom Efficiency:

National: AdjO: 104.0 (154th of 353)
AdjD: 98.3 (91st of 353)
ACC: AdjO: 95.2 (12th of 15)
AdjD: 103.8 (10th of 15)

 

Roster Roundup

Departures:

SG Ryan Murphy (Transferred to Tulane)
30 G, 24.5 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 1.2 apg, 33% 3P%
SG Trey McGowens (Transferred to Nebraska)
33 G, 33.6 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 3.6 apg, 31% 3P%
F Samson George (Transferred to Central Arkansas)
7 G, 3.1 mpg, 0.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0% 3P%
F/C Eric Hamilton (Graduated)
31 G, 16.6 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 49% FG%

Returners:

PG Xavier Johnson (JR)
33 G, 33.2 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 4.9 apg, 33% 3P%
G/F Gerald Drumgoole Jr. (SO)
21 G, 8.9 mpg, 1.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 13% 3P%
F Au’Diese Toney (JR)
31 G, 30.5 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 33% 3P%
PF Justin Champagnie (SO)
33 G, 32.9 mpg, 12.7 ppg, 7 rpg, 42% FG%
PF Karim Coulibaly (SO)
26 G, 9.9 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 42% FG%
C Terrell Brown (SR)
33 G, 18 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 53% FG%

Additions:

SG Femi Odukale (3-star FR)
SG Ithiel Horton (RS SO Transfer, Delaware)
33 G, 32.6 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 1.6 apg, 41% 3P%
SG Nike Sibande (SR Transfer, Miami (OH))
31 G, 28.7 mpg, 13.9 ppg, 1.7 apg, 32% 3P%
F Will Jeffress (4-star FR) 
PF Noah Collier (3-star FR) 
C John Hugley (4-star FR) 
C Max Amadasun (3-star FR)

*Projected starters in bold

Outlook

The Panthers only lost one role player senior to graduation but did lose two key guards to transfer, competent starting shooting guard Trey McGowens (to Nebraska) and accurate sharpshooting reserve Ryan Murphy (to Tulane). They do get back some good players, though.

Rising junior Xavier Johnson at the point is legit and rising sophomore combo forward Justin Champagnie was a bright spot as a rookie (his exclusion from the all-freshman team was a travesty). They’re going to try to replace McGowens with Delaware transfer Ithiel Horton, who scored 13 ppg as a rookie in the CAA and redshirted at Pitt last year, and the Panthers did a good job recruiting forwards and big men in the 2020 class with 4-stars John Hugley and Will Jeffress, plus 3-stars Noah Collier and Max Amadasun, which will set up a good succession for senior center Terrell Brown and provide depth at the 4.

But guard depth is a concern. Included in the roster additions above is Miami (OH) transfer Nike Sibande who had his initial request for immediate eligibility denied and is currently going through the appeals process. His addition would give Pitt the ability to play 3-guard lineups (Toney is more of a forward when in the 3-spot) and to keep Horton and Johnson fresher. If Sibande’s waiver doesn’t come through, they’ll need either 3-star freshman Femi Odukale or rising sophomore Gerald Drumgoole (1 ppg in 9 mpg as a rookie) to step up and provide depth behind the starters.

I still want to see this team learn how to win; if they had brought back McGowens (who could run a bit of point when Johnson sat) and Murphy I’d have them with a shot at the Dance, but right now I think this is at best still just an NIT-quality team due to the guard depth issues. An 11th-hour change of heart by the NCAA for Sibande may change that to some degree, but I still think this program is another year away from Capel’s NCAA Tournament breakthrough.