After a historically bad season for Pittsburgh basketball and a new coaching staff later, things are looking bright for the future of the program. Panthers Head Coach Jeff Capel has been at the head of this change and it has all been because of the great job he has done on the recruiting trail.
Two days ago, he continued this great job as he picked up his third commitment in the 2018 class.
This commitment wasn’t always a 2018 graduate, he was actually a 2019 player all the way up until he announced his commitment to Pitt just two nights ago. Four-star small forward Au’Diese Toney out of Trinity Christian Academy in North Carolina announced via twitter that not only was he committing to Pitt, but, he was reclassifying to the class of 2018.
This news was huge for Pitt basketball and it was the second player that Capel had picked up who would reclassify down to 2018. The other being Trey McGowens, who is actually one of Toney’s AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) teammates and best friends.
“We [McGowens and Toney] always talked about playing with each other one day on the college level,” Toney said, “So I went ahead and teamed up with my best friend from travel ball. We will do very big things on the next level.”
Toney dreams of bringing Pitt back to the prominent place that they once were. When he says they will do very big things he doesn’t mean a 20-win season, he means a lot more.
“We all trying to make it to March Madness,” Toney said, “Hopefully win the national championship.”
A few short months ago, Pitt basketball and National Championship combined in the same sentence would have sounded silly. Now, it sounds quite right. With the coaching staff they have, they are going to continue to bring in high-level players who know how to win who will bring this program back.
By picking up Toney, the Pitt coaching staff did exactly that. They brought in a high level player who knows how to win. In his past season of high school ball, Toney helped lead his team all the way to the North Carolina state championship. In the state championship, Toney won 70-62 over Greenfield School in a game that saw him finish with a statline of 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“It feels great to win a championship knowing that you work hard all year long from day one,” Toney said, “It felt real great like the best feeling you ever had.”
The one thing Toney thought hard about was reclassifying for Toney was passing up another run at a state title, but, at the end of the day he said it wasn’t a very tough decision.
“When I realized I had all the credits for high school to graduate, I didn’t want to waste another year of high school when I knew I could go ahead and go to school and develop and get better,” Toney said.
The coaching staff was a part that had a huge impact on getting a player like Toney to Pitt in 2018.
“The coaching staff at Pitt, had a big impact on my commitment. We talk on the phone daily. We talk about basketball to how was your day, what is you doing, checking on the family, my goals. So they play a big part in it and I feel like they was a father figure,” Toney said.
The Panthers have one scholarship left to give after Toney’s commitment, it will be interesting to see what Capel does with it. Make sure, to give @armchairpitt a follow on twitter to stay up-to-date on all things Pitt sports.