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Pat Signal: Devin Danielson commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a three-star defensive tackle

Proud and very excited to say I have fully committed to THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH #H2P #L1TS8URGH pic.twitter.com/Nonq8DmXKA— Devin Danielson (@djdevin79) June 27, 2017

Pitt landed a commitment from a three-star defensive tackle tonight. Devin Danielson from Thomas Jefferson High School in the Pittsburgh area made the call to join Pitt’s recruiting class. Danielson checks in at 6’3” 290 pounds.

Danielson is graded as three-star by Rivals, Scout, and 24/7. Rivals.com names him the 21st best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania. Danielson had a total of 15 offers, and chose Pitt over his final group of Michigan State, Louisville, and Wisconsin. He also had notable offers from UCLA, West Virginia, and Iowa.

Pitt’s newest recruit is coming off a very big junior season from Thomas Jefferson, a prominent Pittsburgh area powerhouse. Danielson helped lead the Jaguars to a 12-1 season in 2016, and led the team in sacks with 9. He also finished with 41 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries.

Danielson will be joining his high school teammate, Noah Palmer, who committed to Pitt back in the Spring. In all, Pitt has three sets of high school teammates in the recruiting class. In addition to the Thomas Jefferson pair, Nick Patti and Nick Alaimo are from the same high school in New Jersey, and John Morgan and Judson Tallandier are from national power DeMatha Catholic.

Pitt now has 11 commitments for the class of 2018. Danielson is the first defensive tackle for the class, and becomes the fourth member of the class from the WPIAL. It’s becoming a bit funny, because I keep mentioning it, but Pitt’s recruiting class has exploded this month. Danielson is now the sixth recruit to commit to Pitt in June. There is a dead period approaching, so news may slow down, but then again many did not see this commitment happening tonight either.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Jamel Artis' NBA chances

At the risk of being redundant, this week's poll is about Jamel Artis' NBA chances. Last week, I asked the question if he would be drafted. The answer was a resounding no and that turned out to be the correct answer as Artis was not selected.

But while Artis was not picked, he seems like he is headed in the right direction. He not only landed on a summer league team with the New York Knicks but also secured a partially-guaranteed contract, meaning he will be in the team's training camp this fall. That gives him a leg up on many other rookies who will simply be on the summer league teams and still considered longshots to make a roster.

Does the partially-guaranteed contract make you feel any better about his NBA chances?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll Does Jamel Artis' partially-guaranteed contract make you feel better about his chances to play in the NBA? Definitely - His chances are much better Some - I think he has a better chance now than I did before Nope - Still won't make an NBA team   1 votes | Results

Jamel Artis, Michael Young ink Summer League Deals; Artis gets partially-guaranteed contract with New York Knicks

Pitt stars Jamel Artis and Michael Young both went unselected in the NBA Draft. The pair will still get a chance to showcase their talents for the league, though, as both will play in the NBA Summer Leagues.

Young, the ACC's leading scorer this past season, will play for the Washington Wizards in the Las Vegas Summer League. Artis, meanwhile, was scheduled to hook up with the Miami Heat for both the Orlando and Las Vegas leagues. That has changed, though, with the New York Knicks offering him a better deal. Artis will play for the Knicks in the Summer League and then join the team for training camp in what is called a partially guaranteed deal since it sounds like the camp invite is automatic.

Former players that played internationally last year, James Robinson and Brad Wanamaker, will also get looks with the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.

Of the four, Artis' case is the most interesting, obviously. The Knicks weren't mentioned in the gaggle of teams that I noticed had worked Artis out before the Draft, so I was initially confused about their apparent interest since I hadn't heard about it. But after running a quick search, I found that they did indeed have him in for a workout, looking at him back in the beginning of June. So many of those workouts happen that they're easy to miss.

So what is a partially-guaranteed contract? In short, it's getting a small amount of money and a preferred chance at making a team. The money, as this article indicates, isn't huge. But it is a great start for someone getting out of school and hoping to make it to the pros.

Getting into a training camp doesn't assure him a roster spot but it will give him an advantage of other players going into the summer leagues that don't have that opportunity. Artis still needs to make a good impression in that league even with the training camp invite but he's a little ahead of the game when it comes to a lot of the other undrafted players.

It's way too early to tell how this will work out for him. He needs to play on the summer league team and then perform well in camp. Frustratingly, his addition might be less tied to how he actually performs and will greatly depend on what else the team does by way of adding veterans or making trades, injuries, etc. Too much is up in the air right now to even come close to theorizing on a potential roster spot for him. Plenty is undecided but, at the very least, Artis will get a legitimate shot to play in the league. As an undrafted player, that's all you can really hope for.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

New to the Zoo: Samson George commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a 6’8” power forward

Pitt picked up a commitment from 2017 forward Samson George today After he visited campus over the weekend. George is a 6’8” 205 pound forward that played high school basketball for First Love Christian Academy in Washington, PA. He played for the well-regarded New York Rens AAU program.

George is originally a native of Nigeria, and moved and lived in the New York area before winding up playing his high school ball in the Pittsburgh region. He actually was enrolled at Iona this January, but was held up with an NCAA amateur issue. It would appear everything is in order for Pitt to pursue at this point.

At one time in his recruitment, he held offers from VCU, USC, and Rutgers but focused more in on mid-major programs. He picked Iona over Duquesne, Oregon State, and Monmouth. New Pitt assistant Sam Ferry came from Monmouth, so perhaps there is some familiarity there.

I think this is a pretty smart addition, considering they only have three post players on the roster. They needed the roster flexibility and security to have an additional body in case of an injury. George is noted as a very strong rebounder, and should help there in a big way. After he committed to Iona, Zagsblog.com had a story up about him and interviewed his high school and AAU coach. His AAU coach said this about George.

“He is a double-double machine and a high-end athlete. He attacks the ball at its highest point on rebounds. He can face the basket and hit the mid-range jump shot consistently. He will be a definite impact player the minute he steps on campus.”

George would give Pitt 12 scholarships filled for next season. They are still pursing other options and could fill the spot, or keep it tucked away for next recruiting cycle. Obviously adding seven freshman in one recruiting class isn’t ideal for roster balance, and I do expect a redshirt or two.

It is a nice tidbit that they are developing a bond with First Love Academy. Pittsburgh is not known for producing division one talent, but having a rising prep school in the region with multiple division one players is something that should be beneficial in the long run. It is something to monitor.

Obviously some of Pitt’s recruits are ‘late bloomers’, ‘diamonds in the rough’, or whatever cliche term you want to call them. That is what happens when you start from scratch. Will all seven freshman turn into valuable contributors? Doubtful. I’m sure some will, but it will be an interesting thing to watch next year and beyond. The next recruiting class will need to be better, and it appears to be off to a good start with Bryce Golden. Still, they can find some value with this class. George appears to be a very good rebounder, and hopefully that plays at the next level.

Pat Signal: Matt Alaimo commits to Pitt

Pitt landed a commitment yesterday from a tight end

COMMITTED‼️ #H2P #L1TS8URGH pic.twitter.com/XdMRi1LOaE— Matt Alaimo (@_MattAlaimo) June 24, 2017

We are a little behind on this one, but Pitt landed a commitment from a three-star tight end yesterday. Matt Alaimo from St. Joseph’s Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey made the call to become a Panther yesterday afternoon.

Matt Alaimo is a 6’5” 235 pound tight end that hails from The Garden State. He is a consensus three-star recruit by all four major recruiting websites. ESPN calls Alaimo the 17th best tight end recruit in the country and Rivals grades him as the 19 rated player in the state of New Jersey. He had additional offers from the likes of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Arizona State.

If St. Joseph’s Regional High School sounds familiar, that’s because Pitt’s current quarterback recruit, Nick Patti, is from the same school. The Pitt-bound duo led the Green Knights to a 9-2 record last season, and they claimed the New Jersey non-Public Group III title along the way. Alaimo hauled in a team-high 25 receptions for 371 yards last season.

If you notice in Alimo’s commitment tweet, he also announced he will also be playing baseball for the Panthers. As a first basemen for his high school team this season, Alaimo hit for a .435 average and led his team in RBI’s and doubles as well. Looks like he should be helpful for the baseball program and coach Joe Jordano.

Alaimo becomes Pitt’s tenth commitment for the class of 2018. He is also the sixth recruit to join the class this month. With Pitt figuring to have a small class, things may slow down a bit in the coming weeks. There could be some players to watch in the next day or two, but beyond that things will go quiet in July as the dead period starts up and the coaches usually take some down time before Fall camp and the season.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Will Jamel Artis be Drafted?

While most of the intrigue around this year's NBA Draft is centering around the early Lottery picks, there's at least a bit of local intrigue related to the Panthers by way of Jamel Artis.

We've heard much less on the team's leading scorer, Michael Young, but Artis seems to be getting a decent amount of attention. Last month, he worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Sacramento Kings. Artis has also recently had workouts for the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Charlotte Hornets, via reports on Twitter. Possibly even more. If nothing else, Artis is making his way around the league.

This Hornets video, by the way, was sent out from the team's official Twitter account and shows Artis performing pretty well:

A l k at Jamel Artis (#Pittsburgh) in his #HornetsSummer draft workout. #BuzzCity pic.twitter.com/QPQ3E22wCl — Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) June 18, 2017

Artis still is no lock to be selected. And as I wrote before, some of these teams may have no plans to draft him but wanted to have him in to see if he's a summer league candidate. But are his chances significantly worse than those of Lamar Patterson, who was taken in the second round a few years ago? I don't think so. Perhaps the biggest knock on him is his age and, at 24, it's not like he couldn't still have a long career in the league if deemed a strong enough player.

Given all of that, do you expect to hear Artis' name called during the draft on Thursday?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll Will Jamel Artis be selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday? Yes No   0 votes | Results

New to the Zoo: Parker Stewart joins the 2017 Pitt class

Pitt lands an ex-Ole Miss recruit for next season.

Excited to announce I will be joining the Pittsburgh Panther family, play for Coach Stallings, and compete in best conference, the ACC ☝️ pic.twitter.com/CZhr0zkG45— Parker Stewart (@Parker2828) June 19, 2017

Pitt was able to land a much needed addition to their 2017 recruiting class yesterday, as they landed shooting guard Parker Stewart. He was a one-time Ole Miss signee, but asked for his release from his letter of intent earlier this month. He is able to join the team soon, and will be eligible to play next season.

Stewart is a 6’5” 185 pound shooting guard from Union City, Tennessee. His father, Anthony, is a division one head coach for Tennessee-Martin. Stewart is graded as a three-star by all four of the major recruiting services. In addition to Pitt, he received late interest from Georgetown and Iowa State. He held an impressive offer sheet initially with the likes of Wisconsin, Florida, and NC State and about a dozen more.

Stewart is known for one thing especially, and that’s outside shooting. He should walk into Pitt and be their top threat from the outside right away. Here is a look at his senior year at Union City.

Given the graduation of Jamel Artis and Cameron Johnson’s transfer, finding a quality outside shooter like this should help offset those losses somewhat. Landing a player like this this late overall is also impressive. It’s rare to add a good high school talent this late in the game, at this point transfers and junior college players seem to be the only additions available.

To help paint a better picture of Pitt’s ever-changing roster, I’ll give everyone a quick rundown. Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan are back as the seniors of the team. Joining the senior class is grad-transfer Monty Boykins from Lehigh. Jared Wilson-Frame is coming to Pitt with junior eligibility from junior-college. Malik Ellison is a transfer from St. John’s and will sit this upcoming season, and has two years to play after that. Beyond that, it will be six true freshmen; Parker Stewart, Marcus Carr, Kham Davis, Shamiel Stevenson, Peace Ilegomah, and Terrell Brown.

That leaves two open scholarships Pitt can use before this upcoming season. They can likely add an additional post player to help out the very thin frontcourt. Pitt’s roster is definitely imbalanced as they have six freshman and not many upperclassmen at the moment. Pitt will likely have 4, and as many as five spots to fill in the 2018 recruiting class. They are off to a pretty strong start there with four-star Bryce Golden committing to the program just days ago.

Pitt has not had a very positive offseason with a bevy of transfers, the controversial blocking of Cameron Johnson, and their fair share of recruiting misses. So to add a four-star 2018 player a few days ago, and to beat out Georgetown for a three-star player yesterday, this would rank up there with the better developments the program has had in recent memory.

Pitt baseball has three players selected in the 2017 MLB Draft

Last month, I mentioned that Pitt was unlikely to have any high picks selected in the MLB Draft. That draft was held last week and, well, that proved true as the Panthers had no picks in the top 15 rounds. A few Pitt players did eventually get taken, however.

First off the board was pitcher Josh Falk, who went to the Oakland A's in the 17th Round.  Another pitcher, Isaac Mattson, went to the Los Angeles Angels in Round 19. Finally, pitcher Josh Mitchell was scooped up in the 22nd Round by the Kansas City Royals.

No position players were taken, which wasn't terribly surprising. As I wrote last month, Pitt had only one .300 hitter this season, and that was freshman Alex Amos (who was not eligible to be drafted). No one else hit better than .281.

Even the starting pitchers taken didn't have great seasons. I thought Mattson could have been first off the board as he was solid as a reliever. He led the team in saves (4) and had a 2.87 ERA. Perhaps most importantly to scouts, he averaged better than a strikeout per inning.

Falk and Mitchell were less impressive. Falk was 3-7 with a 3.92 ERA and Mitchell was 1-5 with a 4.61 ERA. Mitchell also allowed a team-high ten home runs. Teams are looking less at records and more at 'stuff', though, so it's not as simple as looking at even typically good indicators such as ERA. Records when playing on bad teams is even less useful.

So now the question is, will any of those guys be back to try to improve their draft stock? Falk was a senior, so he was gone for sure. According to Royals Review, Mitchell has already signed. Finally, while I hadn't seen if Mattson had signed or not, his Twitter account indicates he is a 'former' Pitt pitcher, so sounds as if he's gone.

Losing Mattson out of the bullpen hurts and even though Falk and Mitchell didn't have great seasons, it still means the Panthers will need to replace 2/3 of its main rotation. But overall, Pitt isn't losing the type of production they lost last year when five players were drafted. Three of those players were taken in the first 12 rounds, including a first-rounder and a fourth-rounder.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt Basketball Recruiting: Panthers land 2018 PF/C Bryce Golden

While we're still trying to sort out the 2017-18 roster, Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings added a key player for 2018. On Thursday night, the Panthers added 6'9" power forward/center Bryce Golden.

#H2P pic.twitter.com/YsbYtzIsoI — Bryce (@bryce_golden) June 16, 2017

Golden is a 247 four-star composite recruit out of Sharpsburg, Maryland and reportedly had offers from several quality programs, including Maryland, North Carolina State, Clemson, and Xavier. He just visited with Pitt earlier this week. ESPN has him as a four-star recruit while Rivals and Scout both peg him as a three-star player.

While Scout only gives him three stars, they also have him as a top 80 player for 2018, slotting him as the 79th best recruit overall back in their March rankings.

I haven't been able to find any solid stat averages on him but given everything that's gone down with the basketball program this year, this is a hard one not to like. Stallings hasn't endeared himself to fans that much after last year's disaster, but he is known for recruiting. And his 2018 class is off to a solid start with the addition of Golden.

Here's some of his work around the rim at the Peach Jam event.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pat Signal: Blake Zubovic commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a top local lineman

I'M COMING HOME #HOMETOWNHERO18 pic.twitter.com/JaIvYwfcE8— Big Z (@blake_zubovic66) June 14, 2017

Pitt’s June recruiting train kept on rolling this afternoon, as Blake Zubovic committed to the Panthers’ football program. Zubovic is listed as a 6’5” 310 pound offensive linemen. He is from nearby Belle Vernon High School in the Pittsburgh area.

The recruiting websites all consider Zubovic to be a three-star prospect. He is listed as the 14th best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania according to Rivals.com. He had additional offers from Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Michigan State, among 11 others.

Zubovic helped lead his Belle Vernon team to an 8-3 record in 2016. If the school sounds familiar, it also produced former Pitt Panther and current Arizona Cardinals’ lineman, Dorian Johnson. Here is a look at Zubovic’s junior season for the Leopards.

Zubovic becomes the ninth member of Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, and now the third player from the WPIAL area. He is also Pitt’s sixth commitment in the past two weeks. There still appears to be some momentum on Pitt’s recruiting train, and a few more prospects are on commitment watch for the time being.

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