It’s been a brief but wild offseason for Pitt basketball, as the first month coming off the Panthers’ winless ACC season has been filled with drama. Most of the team’s scholarship players requested releases following Kevin Stallings’ firing shortly after Pitt was eliminated from the ACC Tournament.
At least four of those players – Marcus Carr, Kene Chukwuka, Ryan Luther, and Parker Stewart – have stuck with their plans to transfer elsewhere. Though none of the four have found new homes just yet, they have each received their full releases from Pitt, and aren’t expected to return.
Luther, Carr, and Stewart were Pitt’s second, third, and fourth-leading scorers last season, making the hole first-year head coach Jeff Capel will have to dig out of even deeper in 2018-19. Making the situation even worse, Pitt lost both of its 2018 signees – JUCO guard Danya Kingsby, and incoming freshman power forward Bryce Golden. Golden is now reportedly considering Pitt’s longtime rival Syracuse. That’s nearly half Pitt’s projected scholarship roster, gone in the span of a couple weeks.
There remains a possibility that first-year Pitt head coach could have as many as seven returning scholarship players in 2018-19. That would be the scenario if all the remaining players who haven’t requested their releases elect to return.
Numerous younger Pitt players, including wing Shamiel Stevenson, center Terrell Brown, and guard Kham Davis, have all confirmed they are returning. The Panthers will also return their leading scorer last season, Jared Wilson-Frame. In addition, power forward Samson George and center Peace Ilegomah have reportedly not requested releases. This would give Capel a foundation of six players with at least some experience playing for the Panthers next season.
A seventh, Malik Ellison, transferred to Pitt from St. John’s, and sat out last season. Ellison reportedly did ask for a release, but there’s not yet been definitive word as to whether or not he’ll elect to return to Pitt, or transfer to a third college in three years. With minimal depth ahead of him on the roster, Ellison would be positioned to start at shooting guard for the Panthers in 2018-19. He may be waiting to see what additional players Pitt brings in over the next couple months before deciding what his next move will be.
Active on the recruiting trail
Capel is aggressively moving forward on the recruiting trail. Pitt’s new regime is off the ground offering 2019 prospects, including new recent offers to 5-star shooting guard Josh Green of IMG Academy in Florida, and 4-star point guard Trey McGowens of Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
To date, the Panthers have offered nearly 30 scholarships to 2019 prospects. Most of those were offered by the Stallings regime. But with as many as seven scholarships to offer in the 2019 class, the Panthers can offer not only early playing time, but the chance to rebuild a once-proud college basketball heavyweight.