*** Any concerns regarding star recruit Khem Birch having second thoughts about Pitt can finally be laid to rest.
I just spoke with Brandin Knight, who assured me the five-star recruit from Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep remains totally committed to the Panthers.
“Everything is fine,” Knight said. “Everything is good. I don’t know why everybody is (panicking). It’s not a story. There’s nothing to it. It’s all speculation. The kid is fine.”
On Thursday, Birch, whose lead recruiter, Pat Skerry, took a job at Towson State, tweeted “National champs 2012 what y’all thinking? No cats. No lions. Certainly no Orangemen. Straight panthers!!!!”
I haven’t been able to get in touch with Birch to get it straight from him, but Knight is certainly right. Everything is good.
*** Recruit John Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard from Life Center (N.J.) Academy, will play for the New Jersey all-stars against the Pittsburgh-area all-stars as part of the Kenny Durrett Classic at Gateway High School on Saturday. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.
*** Seniors Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee and Brad Wanamaker are off to a good start at the 59th annual Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament. Brown scored a team-high 19 points on 9 of 16 shooting to lead CBH to a 91-75 victory in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Wanamaker had 9 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and no turnovers for Sales Systems in a 78-74 quarterfinal loss, and McGhee had 13 points and eight rebounds in a 96-76 loss for a Mike Duman-sponsored team.
Brown’s team moves onto the semifinals, where it will play Portsmouth Sports Club, led by Vernon Macklin of Florida and Bill Clark of Duquesne, at 9 tonight.
*** A lot of early – ridiculously early – men’s basketball polls for 2012 have already been released. The Panthers are usually in the top 15-20. Here is an early bracket prediction for the 2012 NCAA tournament. Pitt is a No. 4 seed in the Southwest, playing No. 13 Long Island University (the team that beat another Pittsburgh school, Robert Morris, in the first round last month) in the opening round.