SALT LAKE CITY -- Freshman center Steven Adams had one of his best games of the season in Pitt's NCAA tournament loss to Wichita State. And unless he has a change of heart between now and the middle of next month, Pitt fans can look forward to watching him again next season.
Adams said he will not pursue the NBA and will return for his sophomore season.
"I'm coming back," Adams said. "I don't know why you guys keep asking that question."
Adams, the 7-foot native of New Zealand, had been projected as a first-round pick in the NBA draft earlier in the season, but most mock drafts don't even have Adams projected to go in the second round now.
Adams had his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Shockers.
For the season, he averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Coach Jamie Dixon said he is looking forward to coaching Adams and the rest of Pitt's young roster next season.
"He's going to be a great player, there is no question," Dixon said. "I'm looking forward to watching these guys and coaching these guys and them being better next year. I can't wait because I know we have a great group and I'm excited about it."
Pitt will return four starters and 76 percent of its scoring next season, its first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Dixon did not sound like someone who was going to listen to other coaching offers. The first question Dixon took at his postgame news conference was this one: "Do you expect to be back at Pitt next year?"
"Well, yes," Dixon said. "I just had my point guard break down here. That's the farthest thing from my mind."
Speculation has run rampant that Dixon is the No. 1 choice for Southern California athletic director Pat Haden, who fired Kevin O'Neill in the middle of the season.
Closing the book
Tray Woodall scored just two points in his final game at Pitt, but he finished his career with 1,108 points, which placed him in 32nd in school record books. Woodall also finished his career with 580 assists, the fifth most in school history behind Darelle Porter (617), Levance Fields (645), Sean Miller (744) and Brandin Knight (785).
Dante Taylor finished his career with 681 points and 581 rebounds. He is third in school history in field-goal percentage and in the top 15 in blocked shots.
"I put a lot into this program," Woodall said. "The program put a lot into me. I just want to make sure everyone else puts into this program as much as me and Dante. We left our heart out there. We put our heart and soul into this program. We love the city of Pittsburgh and we love this university. That's why we're so emotional after games like this. We both come from the inner city. We're not used to seeing things like this. We put our soul into everything we do."
Pitt had trouble scoring late in the season. The 55 points were the second fewest for the Panthers in a game this season and came on the heels of a 59-point effort against Syracuse in the Big East tournament. The lowest-scoring game of the season, 42 points against Notre Dame, also came in the final month.
Wichita State only shot 39 percent, but the Shockers were able to break down the Panthers on the perimeter and get to the free-throw line. They got to the line 41 times and made 33. Pitt, meanwhile, only got to the line 20 times and made 16.
First Published March 22, 2013 4:00 AM