The journey will take longer than he would like, but Sheldon Jeter will eventually end up at Pitt.
The former basketball star at Beaver Falls High School made a verbal commitment to Pitt Saturday night.
Jeter, a 6-foot-7 forward, graduated from Beaver Falls in 2012 and played his freshman season at Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference. But Jeter wanted to attend a school closer to home and he decided to leave Vanderbilt after his freshman year. He wanted to attend Pitt, but Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings would not release Jeter to the Panthers.
That meant Jeter would have to pay his own way at Pitt, so he decided to enroll at Polk State College, a junior college in Winter Haven, Fla. He re-opened his recruitment and made an official visit to Pitt this past weekend.
"I was looking at some other places, but at the same time, Pitt always had the home-court advantage," Jeter said.
Jeter will attend Polk through the spring semester, then enroll at Pitt, where he will be on a full scholarship. He will have three years of eligibility at Pitt because he isn't playing at Polk. Cincinnati, Boston College and Purdue were among the schools to show interest in Jeter this offseason.
"At first it was all hard to understand what was going on, but once me and coach Stallings had somewhat of a conversation, I saw his point of view for what he thought was going on," Jeter said. "He wasn't going to change his mind. I just had to suck it up and move on."
When asked why Stallings blocked his transfer to Pitt, Jeter said: "I wouldn't call it a reason. It's kind of hard to explain. He had some different views of what was going on. But that's all water under the bridge."
Although Jeter won't play for Polk, he will practice with the team. Polk's coach is Matt Furjanic, who coached Robert Morris years ago. Jeter's cousin, Lance, also played at Polk a few years ago before getting a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Another of Jeter's cousins, Brock Van Lier, plays for Polk now.
"Coach Furjanic did a great job of helping our family," said Carliss Jeter, Sheldon's father. "Sheldon was kind of frustrated with what was going on. Coach Furjanic kind of took Sheldon under his wing and coach Furjanic deserves a lot of credit."
Jeter said he will play small forward at Pitt. He played 33 games at Vanderbilt last season and averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.