As Pitt transitions to a new coach, recruits Kithcart, Manigault reassessing their options
March 29, 2016 12:08 AM
Gregory Payan/Associated Press
Paul VI High School's Corey Manigault, who signed with Pitt and then-coach Jamie Dixon, announced today he is reopening his recruitment.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Justice Kithcart, a 6-1 point guard, committed to Pitt, but is now undecided after Jamie Dixon's departure, according to his father. Pitt fans may take some comfort in knowing that new coach Kevin Stallings also recruited Kithcart when Stallings was at Vanderbilt. The Panthers’ potential point guard of the future “likes coach Stallings and really respects him,” says his father, James Kithcart.
By Brian Batko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Two players who seemed to be pillars of Pitt basketball’s future are now undecided about their own.
Justice Kithcart, a 6-foot-1 point guard, and Corey Manigault, a 6-8 forward, signed with Pitt and then-coach Jamie Dixon in November but are back on the market as of this morning.
Other schools already have reached out to Kithcart’s high school and AAU coaches, said his father, James Kithcart, while Manigault announced on Twitter his decision to reopen his recruitment.
“Justice just doesn’t really feel comfortable with the whole situation and the way the situation went down with Jamie leaving, so he just doesn’t know who to trust right now,” James Kithcart said. “He likes Pitt, but he wants them to recruit him. He wants them to recruit him if they really like him.”
Perhaps some good news for Pitt is that new coach Kevin Stallings also recruited Justice when Stallings was at Vanderbilt, so the Panthers’ potential point guard of the future “likes coach Stallings and really respects him,” his father said.
But Pitt’s coaching transition has the Kithcart family and, apparently, Manigault reevaluating their options. Kithcart is a Durham, N.C., native who led Virginia Episcopal School to a Virginia state championship.
“Justice really likes Pittsburgh and he wanted the opportunity to play in the ACC. He wanted the opportunity to compete to play right away, and everything was kind of lined up for him,” James Kithcart said. “It just kind of happened the way it happened.”
At his introductory news conference today, Stallings made it clear that his first priority is to gauge the comfort level of Pitt’s current players, then move on to the recruits who signed letters of intent.
Stallings said he spoke with two of the recruits and planned to speak with the third one later in the day.
“I was just very candid with both of them,” Stallings said. “If they don’t want to be here, I understand how change can affect some people, so we’ll do what we have to and can to keep them, but at the same time not be in their way if they want to go elsewhere.”
Although Kithcart’s father said his son still “loves the school, loves the academics and the fan base,” Justice Kithcart’s stellar showing in his senior season should have plenty of suitors calling. After scoring 11.3 points per game as a junior, Kithcart averaged 24.5 in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state playoffs, leading his team to the Division II championship early this month. Manigault helped Paul VI High School reach the Division I title game.
“Everything was almost perfect,” James Kithcart said. “But when coach Dixon left, I explained to Justice it was a business decision, and Justice said he’s got to make a business decision, as well.”
The third recruit who signed with Pitt, 6-4 junior-college guard Crisshawn Clark, tweeted that he is “still committed.” Clark is from Huber Heights, Ohio, and played for Wayne High School but now attends Canada College in Redwood City, Calif.
Clark will have three seasons of Division I eligibility after sitting out this past season with a knee injury.
All three prospective Panthers, especially the two high school seniors, are in something of a holding pattern as college basketball’s offseason nears and the coaching carousel continues to turn. Their individual decisions on their landing spots for next season could come at any time.
“We haven’t really thought about that, but it’s not like we’ve got a whole lot of time,” James Kithcart said of when his son might make his next move. “It’s just a wait-and-see process at this point.”
Brian Batko: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrianBatko.
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