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Pitt basketball lands a big man for its class of 2019 | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Pitt basketball lands a big man for its class of 2019

Jerry DiPaola
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel questions a call against NC State in the first half Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Petersen Events Center.

Jeff Capel continued his winning streak off the court Friday when he received his second verbal commitment this week from a member of the class of 2019.

This time, it’s a center, 6-foot-8 Karim Coulibaly of Scotland (Pa.) Performance Institute. Scotland is the No. 3-ranked prep school in the nation.

Coulibaly represents a step in the right direction for Pitt, which has a desperate need for a significant presence around the basket.

Coulibaly, 19, is a native of Mali who didn’t arrive in the U.S. – 5,000 miles from home and without his parents — until the age of 14. Scotland coach Chris Chaney has worked with Coulibaly for two years.

“He’s had a great season,” Chaney told the Chambersburg Public Opinion last month. “What he did last year for us, being a top guy, then coming back and maturing, doing the little things, he’s gonna be a hot commodity.” He recorded an impressive double-double earlier this season when he scored 42 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a game against Rocktop Academy.

Coulibaly is the No. 30 center in the nation, according to Rivals.com — No. 3 in Pennsylvania, behind West Virginia recruit Oscar Tshiebwe of Kennedy Catholic and Florida State recruit Naheem McLeod of Plymouth Whitemarsh.

He is rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and a three-star by Rivals.

Moving to a different culture wasn’t easy for Coulibaly until he started adapting to his surroundings.

“It’s been hard,” Coulibaly told the Public Opinion. “I’ve been here by myself. I came without my mom, my dad, my friends. It’s tough. “You have to be tough mentally, and focus on why you came here. And (when that happens) everything is gonna be OK.”

Coulibaly chose Pitt over 15 other scholarship offers, including from Saint Joseph’s Georgia Tech, Boston College, George Washington, Penn State, Providence, Cincinnati and Rhode Island.

Pitt also landed a verbal commitment Monday from 6-6 small forward Gerald Drumgoole of La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind. Drumgoole is rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports and a 3-star by Rivals.

Under Pitt’s current roster structure, Capel has three more available scholarships this year.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.