Dixon's enthusiasm high after two recent signings

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A lot of Pitt fans have been focused on the players who have been exiting the program in recent months, and for good reason. Three players who were expected to be in the rotation exited the program for a variety of reasons.

But Panthers coach Jamie Dixon enjoys has an eye on the future, and he is energetic about the two players he signed in the spring signing period.

"We've added some bigger and stronger guys," Dixon said Friday afternoon. "It's a really good group. I'm excited about where it's going."

Dixon has 10 scholarship players on his roster after forward Jamel Artis and Joseph Uchebo recently signed letters of intent. They joined 6-foot-8 forward Mike Young and 6-2 guard Josh Newkirk, who signed in the fall signing period.

Artis is a 6-7, 230-pounder from Notre Dame Prep who can play small and power forward. Uchebo is a 6-10, 260-pound center with three years of eligibility after transferring from Chiploa Junior College in Florida.

Uchebo did not play last season because of a knee injury, but Dixon said he expects him to be ready in the fall. He will arrive on campus for the second summer semester next month.

"The surgery was a while back," Dixon said. "We're looking forward to him being ready. From all indications, that's where he's going to be."

Artis is on campus for the first summer school semester. He has added some weight and has the position flexibility Dixon desires in his forwards.

"We saw him a bunch during the year, and he had a really good year against good competition," Dixon said. "He has the ability to play inside and outside. And he's 230, a big body. He has the ability to be a good active player."

A few more transfers could be joining the ranks in the coming days or weeks.

DeAndre Kane, who played at Schenley High School, is expected to transfer from Marshall and be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer. The Panthers are in the mix for others, including Beaver Falls graduate Sheldon Jeter, who spent his freshman season at Vanderbilt.

Having scholarships available is something Dixon has come to like at this time of the year. Since the beginning of last season, four players -- Malcolm Gilbert, John Johnson, Trey Zeigler and most likely J.J. Moore -- have transferred out or will transfer out of the program. Plus, Steven Adams decided to turn pro and declare for the NBA draft after one season.

Dixon was in Chicago Thursday and got to spend some time with Adams, who made a nice impression with NBA general managers and scouts with a strong performance at the NBA draft combine the past two days. Dixon said Adams will return to Los Angeles to train before the draft in late June.

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Ray Fititpaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1230 and Twitter @rayfitt1.


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