Damon Wilson, one of the top high school point guards in the class of 2015, had plenty of offers to play in a major conference and at top college programs.
But Pitt offered him the opportunity to learn his trade from a guy who used to play point guard for the Panthers and was so good at it he was once the Big East player of the year. His retired number is hanging in the rafters at the Petersen Center.
That, of course, would be Pitt assistant coach Brandin Knight, who plays a large role in recruiting for the Panthers and was a big reason Wilson, a four-star prospect from Our Savior New American, a high school in Centereach, N.Y. (on Long Island), made a verbal commitment Monday night to the Panthers.
According to Our Savior assistant coach, Eric Jaklitsch, the 6-foot-4 Wilson had a lot of other offers, but the opportunity to learn from Knight in a program built on toughness and grit like Pitt was too much to pass up.
“It is simple, Brandin Knight made Damon a priority, made it clear that he was an important piece for the Pitt program, came to see him, had him down to campus,” Jaklitsch said Tuesday.
“You add that to the fact that Pitt is a great program and plays in the ACC, the best league in the country, and it was clear this is where he wanted to be and that’s why he told Jamie Dixon Monday, he was committing.
“To learn from a guy like that and also get an opportunity to play with James Robinson, who will be one of the best point guards in the country in two years.”
Jaklitsch said that Wilson has a high upside, even though he already is highly rated. That’s because he still is growing and projects to be about 6-6 in a couple of years.
Wilson’s father, Damon, Sr., played football at Georgia Tech, and his older sister, Dominique, is a guard at North Carolina State.
Wilson, originally from Georgia, had offers from many schools, including Georgia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and George Mason.
Jaklitsch said that Wilson is athletic, long and a “pass-first” point guard who also has a nice scoring touch and is an excellent defender. He also possesses the most important quality for any Pitt guard.
“Damon is tough, and he is a winner,” Jaklitsch said. “He possesses that toughness that, if you look, the guys like Brandin, like a Carl Krauser, like Levance Fields all had.
“It is what that program is built on.”
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @paulzeise.