Pitt Panthers basketball: Previewing the big men

The Pitt Panthers do not have a lot of height on the roster for next season. They will feature a more athletic crop of players that can stretch the floor and get back on defense quickly.

Sophomores and Michael Young and Jamel Artis will log major minutes for the Panthers next season. They will be joined by Senior Derrick Randle, and two freshmen Shaquille Doorson and Tyrone Haughton. The five forwards will platoon the fill the power forward and center positions.

Doorson and Haughton are listed as centers on the roster, however Doorson, at 6’11, is the only true center on the roster. Haughton is a generous 6’9 and is a potential redshirt. It is not plausible to expect a freshman to start right away, although the Panthers may not have any other options.

Doorson is the number one recruit in coach Jamie Dixon’s recruiting class and will get playing time right away. Dixon is not one to shy away from starting freshmen, but until Doorson can prove himself he will receive minutes off of the bench. One option for Dixon though is to start Doorson for purposes of the jump ball and then sub him out after a few possesions.

The ideal starters to fill the four and five spots in the lineup are Jamel Artis and Michael Young. Young started almost every game last season and really came into his own towards the end of the season.

An excerpt from a review of Michael Young published on May 1:

“The freshman forward was a nice addition to the Pitt basketball team this past season. At 6-foot-8, he possesses a fairly lethal outside jumper that compliments his inside game. He was fairly effective on the defensive side of the ball as well, helping stabilize the inside of the Panthers’ zone.”

Jamel Artis has a similar playing style as Michael Young and both will be valuable to the Panthers next season. Artis and Young are 6’7 and 6’8 respectively. Neither height bodes well for the Panthers if they face a team with exceptional height.

Derrick Randle is the real catalyst of this team. The senior big man transferred into the program from Rutgers in 2013 after the infamous Mike Rice saga. Randle showed great potential at times, but too often was his play too poor to warrant considering him as a potential starter. He is 6’9 and perfectly capable of playing center, but too often did his lack of effort on the court translate to rather flat play. If Randle grows and matures over the summer he could play a large role for this Pitt Panthers basketball team.

Ideally the Panthers starting lineup next season will be one of the more athletic ones that Jamie Dixon has ever deployed. It will be a long ways away from the days of an offense that is focused around two dominant big men (the Aaron Grey and Levon Kendall era).

Even if Doorson is able to earn himself a spot in the starting lineup, he is one of the more athletic big men out there and there will not be a drop off in speed in the lineup. Regardless the Panthers will have a smaller lineup for parts of next season, and as long as there shooters preform adequately this will not be a problem.