Pitt basketball: Josh Newkirk has a bright future with Pitt

Josh Newkirk has a bright future within the Pitt basketball program.

While the freshman-guard contributed just 4.6 ppg off of the bench this season he did so while only seeing limited minutes. However, as the season came to a close he showed several flashes of his undeniable skill and ability to score that could pay dividends in the future.

He enrolled at Pitt as a three-star recruit who had scholarship offers from Memphis, Missouri and Georgia Tech before ultimately accepting the offer from Pitt. Newkirk, a 6’2 guard from Raleigh, NC, is the exact recruit that Jamie Dixon has been working so hard to get. He is an ACC type of player and is the type of player that Pitt needs to recruit in order to compete in their new conference.

Newkirk’s best quality is his speed and ability to change the pace of the game. He is a crafty and a talented combo-guard that is able to speed up the Panther’s transition game immensely.

He peaked this season in the Panthers’ March 3 match with NC State. Newkirk played for 34 minutes and scored 20 points, both career-highs, on 7-8 shooting and was 5-5 from behind the three-point line. At the end of that game Newkirk had connected on seven straight three-point shot attempts and was proving himself worthy of a larger role with the team.

While Newkirk will not be a starter for the Panthers next season, he will play an integral role in their success. He should be able to slot himself in for considerable minutes. He will not start over James Robinson at point guard but will provide a different game-style for the Panthers when he is in the game.

Robinson works exceptionally well in an unselfish, half-court offense, while Newkirk preforms better and a more fast-tempo offense. Dixon can switch the two players in-and-out and will confuse defenses to no end.

The Panthers showed last season a great ability to play a mixture of fast-tempo and half-court offense but it fell apart midway through the conference schedule. With Newkirk receiving additional minutes, the Panthers will be able to change the pace of their offense on the fly and it should be much more successful.

Expect Newkirk’s success next season to play a direct role in just how successful this Pitt basketball team can be next year. In order for the Panthers to continue their success in the ACC they need to start moving more towards the typical ACC style of play. The traditional Big East style of rough defensive play is not going to allow the Panthers to grow in the ACC.

The type of players that Pitt needs to recruit in order to be successful in the ACC will not want to go to a program that plays a Big East style of basketball. Likewise, Big East style recruits will not want to go play in the ACC. Hence, Newkirk is the perfect player for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers. Expect Newkirk to be the defining player of this Big East to ACC transition.