Plenty of action on and off the court Saturday at the Pete
The game will matter Saturday when Pitt tries to stop its eight-game losing streak while tangling with Virginia Tech at Petersen Events Center.
But what’s going on at the edge of the court, especially what’s running through the heads of three coveted visiting recruits, may matter just as much.
Pitt is entering the final six regular-season games of coach Jeff Capel’s first year on the job. Here are three thoughts to keep in mind before and during the game.
1. Capel’s big week.
Capel received good news from recruits Gerald Drumgoole and Karim Coulibaly, who pledged to enroll in time for the 2019-20 season.
But the reconstruction project requires several new faces, and Pitt is serving as host to 6-foot-11, 215-pound prospect Ibrahima Diallo of Prolific Prep in Napa Valley, Calif. Plus, class of 2020 twins Julian and Justin Champagnie, are visiting. They are 6-7 and 6-6 small forwards from Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The twins are intriguing, but not as much as Diallo’s size. A native of Senegal, Diallo potentially could join the 6-8 Coulibaly next season to give Capel the presence in the paint he currently lacks and desperately needs.
Before Capel arrived, Pitt’s previous three recruiting classes produced little in the way of star players, and that unfortunate trend must end.
But the class of 2017 did bring Jared Wilson-Frame to Pitt. Don’t sell Kevin Stallings’ best recruit short.
Wilson-Frame is second in the ACC in 3-point field goals per game (2.8) and ninth in 3-point percentage (39.2). He has 32 3s in the past eight games. Along with Xavier Johnson, he is Pitt’s best hope to upset the Hokies.
2. Another ranked foe.
No. 22 Virginia Tech (19-5, 8-4) is Pitt’s seventh ranked opponent this season (1-5).
The Hokies are well-coached by Buzz Williams, who apparently makes a big deal of sharing the basketball. Virginia Tech had 20 assists on 25 field goals Wednesday in a 76-68 victory against Georgia Tech, the third time the Hokies have assisted on at least 80 percent of their made shots.
3. A couple of big-timers
Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17.3 points per game) and Pitt’s Johnson (16.6) are seventh and ninth in scoring in the ACC. Alexander-Walker has 27 assists in the past six games, so he will be the main focus of Pitt’s defense.
Johnson needs 20 points to break Charles Smith’s 34-year-old freshman scoring record. Johnson has 416 points and eight games with 20 or more points.