Morning Five: 09.30.10 EditionPosted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2010
- Jamie Dixon may have lassoed the highest-rated recruit in the history of Pittsburgh basketball yesterday, as 6’9, 200-pound junior forward Khem Birch verbally committed to his Panther program. The athletic player originally from Canada is rated in the top five in both the Rivals and Scout rankings for the class of 2012, and he will undoubtedly be a force in the Big East in a couple of years. Anyone expecting Pitt to “come back to earth” anytime soon is dreaming — so long as Dixon is there, the Panthers are going to remain a force not just in the conference but nationally. We shudder to think what Dixon will be able to do if he starts getting top ten players at Pitt on a regular basis.
- Tomorrow is October, and these player profiles will be everywhere soon enough. Here are a few to whet your appetite. UNC’s John Henson (whom Gary Parrish expects to become the biggest breakout star of the year), San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard (whom Mike DeCourcy reports is in much better shape than his freshman year, where he still averaged 13/11), and Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer (whom Jim Henry suggests will be the keys to FSU’s third straight NCAA Tournament bid).
- Mike DeCourcy points out that the Big East was a ridiculously tight league last season, with over a quarter of its games coming down to a single possession. That may not mean much until you learn that a league like the Big 12 had similarly close games only half as much last year. Marquette in particular seemed to have had a lot of those games, and it turns out that 13 of their 21 Big East games last year were three points or fewer (including four OT contests). What we wouldn’t give for a single Marquette-Notre Dame game right now…
- Here’s a look at two coaches in vastly different situations at their respective schools who are using the art of recruiting blue-chip prospects to substantiate their coaching existences. John Pelphrey would appear to be on the hot seat at Arkansas after three lackluster seasons, but according to Gary Parrish, he’s bought himself at least two more years with a strong incoming class that will arrive in Fayetteville in 2011. On the flip side of things, Ohio State’s Thad Matta is in no danger of losing his job in large part because he continues to haul in fantastic players to his program year after year (Jared Sullinger only the latest stud of many).
- Former UNC head coach and Hall of Famer Dean Smith made an appearance at the Charlotte Bobcats’ training camp on Wednesday. One of his former pupils, Larry Brown, is currently the head coach of the team and, of course, His Airness is the majority owner of the club. This was the first public appearance for the legendary coach since the summer release of information from his family that he was suffering from a degenerative memory disease, but the 79-year old Smith was in good enough condition to keep up appearances — he made sure to wear a bright Carolina blue jacket to the camp (ed note: send us a photo if you’ve got one).