Pitt's Wanamaker nears milestone

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When Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was recruiting senior guard Brad Wanamaker, he believed he was getting an extremely versatile player.

Wanamaker certainly has not disappointed, and now he is approaching a milestone which would suggest he is, at least statistically speaking, one of the most versatile players in school history.

Wanamaker needs 43 points, 50 rebounds and 6 assists to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists for his career.To put such a feat in perspective, consider this: former point guard Carl Krauser (1,642 points, 526 rebounds, 568 assists) is the only player in school history who has accomplished that feat.

At Wanamaker's current pace, an average 5.3 assists per game, he should get his 400th assist Saturday when the second-ranked Panthers (19-2, 7-1) play at Rutgers (12-8, 3-5).

He will need about four more games to reach 1,000 points (12.7 ppg) and about 10 games (4.9 rpg) to get to 500 rebounds.

With 10 regular-season games remaining and two -- and likely more -- in the postseason, it is reasonable to expect a healthy Wanamaker to reach that three-pronged milestone and join an elite category of players.

In fact, among the 38 Pitt players who have joined the 1,000-point club, only four have comparable statistics: Ricardo Greer (1,753 points, 888 rebounds, 373 assists), Vonteego Cummings (1,581 points, 412 rebounds and 458 assists), Brandin Knight (1,440 points, 492 rebounds and 785 assists) and Darelle Porter (1,007 points, 466 rebounds, 617 assists).

Wanamaker said that while he is focused on the big picture -- helping Pitt win another Big East title and get to the Final Four for the first time -- he understands that what he is about to accomplish would put him in a special category in Pitt basketball history.

"It is special because I can have my name out there with Carl Krauser as being one of the best, or at least well-rounded, guards in Pitt history," Wanamaker said. "Just for my name to be put alongside of someone like Carl, that means something; it isn't what I am focused on, but it is something that has happened over the years.

"Since my freshman year, coach has told me I could be a really good player in this system, a playmaker, a rebounder, and that's what I've tried to do. I just try to work hard and I've always tried to just get a nose for what coach wants me to do."

Dixon said he actually expected more from Wanamaker than the guard gave early in his career, but over the past two seasons he has developed into one of the best players in the Big East.

Wanamaker, who is from Philadelphia and played at Roman Catholic, struggled his first season with the Panthers, averaging only 2.2 points and 1.2 rebounds, but Dixon said he laid a solid foundation that year and continued to work through those struggles.

"When we were recruiting him, the thing that stood out to me was his passing first and his ability to see the floor," Dixon said.

"And also, his versatility -- he could rebound, he could defend, he could get other guys' shots, he could score, he could get to the basket and now his outside shot has developed every year since he got here.

"His play has been tremendous all year long. He brings so much, and the thing that stands out to me is how unselfish he is and how unselfish he plays. He just makes other players better on his team, and that is the best thing you can do as a player."

At 6 feet 4, 210 pounds, Wanamaker is a big guard who is capable of defending some forwards and can present a matchup problem for smaller guards.

And while Dixon said that Wanamaker is not officially listed as a point guard, he plays that role often, or, at the very least, has many of those duties.

"You think of the two guys we're talking about -- Carl was a point guard that rebounded well, and those are hard to come by," Dixon said. "And Brad is in many ways the same thing. Even though we don't list him as a point guard, he plays like a point guard ... you have to have some size, some toughness and you have to have the ability to score.

"He's a very good player."

True to form, Wanamaker made it clear, however, that while the milestone will be a nice footnote to his career, he believes his legacy will be defined by winning games, and that's what he is focused on.

"To me winning is always first," Wanamaker said. "But we all have a role to do to contribute to winning and I've always believed my role on offense has been to score, to assist others and to help rebound on both offense and defense.

"I feel like I've done that but I'm not satisfied. I can get better every night, and that is what I try to do."

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com .


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