The 2014-15 Pitt basketball team is one that promises to compete with the best of the best in the ACC. I expect the Panthers to finish within the top four of the ACC. There will be a tougher schedule for the Panthers given the conference’s newest addition is former Big East foe Louisville, and you know that Rick Pitino will have his sights set on a top spot in the ACC.
The Panthers lost a lot last season with NBA second round draft Pick Lamar Patterson and center Talib Zanna. Both accounted for a high percentage of the offense and will be missed incredibly. Zanna’s departure especially will cause a void and with no true center on the team, expect Michael Young‘s minutes and production to increase as he sets himself up to have a breakout season.
The 6 foot 8 sophomore started most of the Panthers games last season and looked quite impressive in doing so. While he only average 6.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg, it was his maturity that really showed last season. Young looked poised on the court and often deffered to veteran Panthers.
I see no reason why Young won’t average at least 12 ppg and somewhere in the ballpark of 7.5 rpg. Young is talented and by all accounts has improved his shooting range immensly. Young has been on display in the annual Pittsburgh Basketball Club summer pro-am league. Young has averaged 26 ppg and 9.0 rpg, truly dominating his opponents as he has led his team to a perfect 4-0 record.
What is also impressive from his stats is he is 9/20 from beyond the perimeter. That will come in handy for the Pitt basketball team in the future.
Young will be counted on down low especially with 4-star recruit Shaquielle Doorson from the Netherlands decommitting from the Panthers and committing to Rutgers. Young could start at center in what could be a particularly small Panthers lineup. But that is okay, especially if the Panthers elect to move towards more of a speedy run-and-gun style of offense. A starting lineup of James Robinson, Cameron Wright, Sheldon Jeter, Jamel Artis and Michael Young would feature a quick and tough lineup, one that could work as long as the Panthers do not face a team with two large guys in the paint.
It will be interesting to see how Young continues to progress in the summer league. The talent is plentiful in this particular league, it features players not just from Pitt but Robert Morris, West Virginia, Duquesne, Temple and many other smaller schools as well as occasional check-ins from NBA talents such as DeJuan Blair, Steven Adams and Sam Young.
Regardless, if the Panthers want to go far in the ACC, Michael Young will need to have a breakout year, I think he just might do it.