The 2011 Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am begins on Monday night (the rosters were posted earlier) at the Greentree Sports Complex and they have made for some interesting matchups. The schedules are supposed to be released later today. Here is a breakdown on the summer league teams.
Pitt players — Tray Woodall, 5-9, G; Talib Zanna, 6-9, F; Durand Johnson, 6-7, F
Other top players – Lamar Castille, 6-4, G, CCBC; Sean Johnson, 6-2, G, Duquesne
Under the radar – Antonio DiMaria, 6-6, G/F, Utah.
Outlook – With Woodall running the point, and Zanna, incoming Pitt freshman Johnson, DiMaria and lightly-used Duquesne junior Andre Marhold, the team should have a solid inside-out game. Castile, the playground legend from the Hill District, is one of the most explosive players in the league. Since leaving Sewickley Academy/Bishop Canevin, DiMaria has played at a North Carolina prep school, Kent State and junior colleges in Kansas and Wyoming. He signed with Utah after being named first-team all-conference at Casper (Wyo.) College last season.
Pitt players – Ashton Gibbs, 6-2, G; Lamar Patterson, 6-5, G/F.
Other top players – Deniz Kilicli, 6-10, F, West Virginia; David Jackson, 6-7, F, Penn State.
Under the radar – Derrick Martin, 6-9, F, Duquesne.
Outlook – Gibbs, a two-time all-Big East performer, joins Patterson to give this squad a potent 1-2 punch. Kilicli, no stranger to Pitt fans, brings a versatile inside scoring touch and Jackson was a three-year starter at Penn State. Duquesne’s Jerry Jones, a 6-4 guard, made the all-freshman team in last year’s summer league. Martin sat out last year for the Dukes, but he’s an imposing shot-blocker and gives this team some inside defense.
Pitt players – Isaiah Epps, 6-2, G; Dante Taylor, 6-8, F/C
Other top players – Coron Williams, 6-2, G, Robert Morris; Mezie Nwigwe, 6-4, Robert Morris
Under the radar – Ashen Ward, 6-5, G, Youngstown State
Outlook – Epps will be running the show on this team and it will be interesting to see how he handles things after redshirting last season at Pitt. Taylor also is facing an important summer. He will make an impact; there are not a lot of top big men (it’s a guard-oriented league) and he should average a double-double. Williams is a top perimeter shooter – he shot 46.7 percent from behind the arc last season – and Ward isn’t gun-shy. This team has a lot of experience, including post-grads Griffin Abel of Pitt, Mezie Nwigwe of Robert Morris and Steve McNees, the former Shenango star, of Akron. Abel made the all-summer league alumni team last year; Nwigwe was a former Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and McNees ranks No. 7 all time in assists at Akron.
Pitt players – Cameron Wright, 6-5, G; Nasir Robinson, 6-5, F; Malcolm Gilbert, 6-11, C.
Other top players – Eric Evans, 5-11, G, Duquesne; B.J. Monteiro, 6-5, G/F, Duquesne.
Under the radar – Anthony Myers, 5-11, G, Robert Morris.
Outlook – Wright will miss the first week and possibly longer while trying out for the USA Basketball U-19 team. Robinson figures to be one of the top players in the league. Gilbert will look to be an inside force on a team without much size – only two other players on the roster are taller than 6-5 (6-7 Jakim Donaldson of Edinboro and last year’s small-school MVP 6-8 Jim Wood of Mt. Union). Evans, who missed 10 games last season with a broken foot, earned all-league honors last summer. Myers ranked second in Robert Morris in assists last year. Along with Monteiro, Evans and Robinson, this team looks to push the tempo as much as anyone in an already fast-action league.
Pitt players – John Johnson, 6-1, G; J.J. Moore, 6-6, G/F; Khem Birch, 6-10, C.
Other top players – Lance Jeter, 6-4, G, Nebraska; Velton Jones, 6-0, G, Robert Morris.
Under the radar – Lijah Thompson, 6-7, F, Robert Morris.
Outlook – All eyes will be Birch, the McDonald’s All-American. But he has a lot of help, which is good as he acclimates himself to the Division I level. Moore was an all-freshman summer league pick last year and Jeter, an all-league guard, had a good argument for summer MVP (Gibbs won it). Throw in Pitt’s incoming combo-guard John Johnson, athletic shot-blocker Thompson, quality point guard Jones, and D-I players Tom Droney (Davidson) and Josh Taylor (Eastern Kentucky), and this team is my early choice to win it all.
Pitt players – None.
Other top players — T.J. McConnell, 6-1, G, Duquesne; Truck Bryant, 6-3, West Virginia.
Under the radar – Damien Eargle, 6-7, F, Youngstown State.
Outlook – This is one of two teams in the league without a Pitt player. They will be led by the McConnell-Bryant backcourt. It may be the best backcourt in the league (although I would give the edge to Woodall-Castile). McConnell was named Rookie of the Year in the summer league last year. Kyle Goldcamp, a 6-10 former standout at Gannon, is a summer league veteran. The roster includes three incoming freshman for Duquesne, led by 6-4 guard P.J. Torres.
Pitt players – None.
Other top players – Juwan Staten, 6-3, G, West Virginia; Jabarie Hinds, 6-0, G, West Virginia; Aaric Murray, 6-10, F, West Virginia.
Under the radar – Keaton Miles, 6-7, F, West Virginia.
Outlook – This is effectively Team West Virginia. The roster is comprised of nine Mountaineers and three players from West Virginia Wesleyan. They will miss the first two games, because the team can’t make it until June 27. Hinds is the star of the 2011 recruiting class. Juwan Staten (Dayton) and Aaric Murray (LaSalle) are high-level recruits. Watch out for Miles, a long, high-flyer who will translate well into this style of play.