The lifeblood of any dominant college program is recruiting. Without capable recruits populating rosters of top basketball and football programs, it's difficult for any coach to sustain an elite level of success.
On both the hardwood and the gridiron, the University of Pittsburgh has brought in key pieces that fit systems and allowed the Panthers to be near the top of the Big East in both sports.
It appears coaches Jamie Dixon and Dave Wannstedt are poised to keep their respective runs going.
Dixon has already landed 2011 big man Jaylen Bond
who could develop into Pitt’s next great post player. Bond teamed with MaxPreps All-American C.J. Aiken
to helped lead Plymouth Whitemarsh to a AAAA state title, averaging 18 points and eight rebounds.
He chose Pitt over Temple and West Virginia.
“The main thing is Coach Dixon makes his players better and helps them go beyond college, if that’s possible,” Bond told MaxPreps.com
Correspondent Joseph Santoloquito.
Pitt has also received some outstanding guard play during Dixon’s tenure, and Girard College star John Johnson
should continue that lineage.
As a sophomore, Johnson led Girard College to a A state title. He averaged more than 24 points a game during his junior campaign.
Neither Bond nor Johnson could be classified a mega-recruit but each both could flourish in Pitt’s system.
“They’re the typical Pitt kids,” MaxPreps.com
National Basketball Editor Jason Hickman said. “They come in with a chip on their shoulder and Jamie Dixon does a great job with them.”
On the other side of campus, Dave Wannstedt has had similar success with unheralded prospects and blue chip recruits alike. He's helped make Pitt one of the most successful programs in the Big East the last five years.
His biggest recruit coup in recent memory was landing freshman sensation Dion Lewis
Lewis, a New York native, ended his career at Garden State prep school Blair Academy where he rushed for 1,243 yards and 23 TDs. Ignored by many programs, Pitt took a chance on the 5-foot-9 Lewis, and it paid off in a big way as he earned Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
The cupboard is far from bare for current recruits as Wannstedt seeks to build on last year’s 10-3 record.
Quarterback Gary Nova
is already on board for the Panthers 2011 recruiting class. Wannstedt and staff, similar to Dixon, have done a great job at developing talent and Nova could end up being a great example of that.
Like current Panthers quarterback Tino Sunseri, Nova is not a national recruit who will step onto campus with enormous expectations.
However, he was remarkably effective in his first year starting at Don Bosco Prep and should only continue to improve.
Joining Nova are fellow Garden State natives Bill Belton
and Marquise Wright.
Belton is one of the most exciting players in the state. He produced more than 2,000 total yards as a junior and was courted by schools up and down the coast.
Similarly touted, Wright will be one of the best interior linemen in New Jersey this fall. He turned down offers from Rutgers, Penn State, West Virginia and others to get on board with the Panthers.
The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Wright will likely team up down the road with 2010 recruit T.J. Clemmings
, a defensive end.
Clemmings, a 6-6, 260-pound physical specimen, first drew attention in ninth grade as a basketball prospect.
A star on the Cougars basketball team through his senior season, it would be nearly impossible now for Clemmings to attempt to suit up for both football and basketball at a school that produces top-level teams in both sports.