The departure of Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson from the Pitt basketball program has left many holes for the team. The two accounted for more than 40 percent of the teams production last season. Patterson was drafted in the middle of the second round by the Atlanta Hawks. Zanna went undrafted and played for the Philadelphia 76ers summer league team.
Zanna’s hole was supposed to be filled by 6’11 incoming freshman Shaquielle Doorson. Doorson was a four-star recruit that looked to have the inside track for the starting center void left by Zanna. In mid-June Doorson decomitted from Pitt and committed to Rutgers University. This leaves the Panthers with no true center.
It is likely though that the Panthers could use Joe Uchebo in a higher role next season. The 6’10 former top-1000 recruit transferred into the program last season but sat due to knee issues. Another possibility is to deploy both Michael Young and Jamel Artis into the starting lineup. The two are 6’8 and 6’7 respectively and would be at a loss for rebounds against teams with a natural center. Both possess more away from the basket type of games.
As for Patterson’s void, it is quite a big one. The former Panthers star will be missed immensely. Filling his spot will be Durand Johnson who missed most of last season with a torn ACL. Johnson started out the ACC season strong until the early January matchup with Wake Forest when he tore his ACL. Should Johnson not be ready immediately at the start of the season, expect transfer Sheldon Jeter to step up.
Jeter is a Beaver Falls native (30 minutes from Pittsburgh). He attended Vanderbilt before transferring at the conclusion of the 20112-13 season. After sitting out last year, Jeter is ready to go and has been looking food in the Pittsburgh pro-amateur summer league. Jeter is a long 6’7 with tremendous rebounding ability. He will start at the three at the beginning of the season and should provide immediate relief crashing the boards.
Pitt will be an entirely different team in the 2014-15 season, one that could be its most talented. Coach Dixon has a tremendous amount of depth all over the court. Despite the big losses of Zanna and Patterson, this team will compete for a top-4 finish in the ACC.