Pitt Basketball Preview before ACC play


Picture of Pitt team, from left to right: Nelly Cummings, Greg Elliot, Blake Hinson, Jon Hugley, Jamarius Burton. Photo Credit: pittsburghsportsnow.com

The great city of Pittsburgh is very prideful with their sports teams. With Pitt Basketball starting up, they too, do not have very high expectations, but they do have some bright spots that can hopefully bring the Pittsburgh fans some hope and happiness. After 13 games of pre-conference play, the Panthers are off to a great start, 10-4 (3-0 ACC) with huge wins over Syracuse, Northwestern and NC State and most notably #25 UNC.

Pitt was active in the transfer portal this offseason, with some key pickups, along with some returning players from last year. The Panthers have a vast amount of talent on their squad, it’s just about if coach Jeff Capel can use it correctly. Their top players, and the most anticipated ones mean there is a lot to be excited about, even as an underdog, and they are proving that.

-Nelly Cummings:  (Senior, Guard)

Transferring from Colgate, the hometown kid has a lot of fans excited for this season. Nelly put up great numbers last season, averaging about 15 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds per game to lead the team to a 23-12 season, and a March Madness bid. Cummings put the whole country on notice when he put up 20 points against #3 Wisconsin, coming just short of an upset. In his game against SHU, Nelly dropped 24 points for his Pitt Career high.

It is worth noting that Nelly Cummings is from Beaver County, and transferred to Pitt for his senior season.

-John Hugley: (Junior, Forward)

6’9, 265, John Hugley is an absolute beast. Despite the team struggling last year, Hugley showed extreme talent all throughout the year, averaging 15 points per game, and 8 rebounds. Hugley was arrested and suspended in 2021 for felonies involving grand theft auto. However he is back and hopefully here to stay, as he is projected to be an important piece to this Pitt team in ACC play.

-Jamarius Burton: (Senior, Guard)

Following the 2020 season, Burton transferred from Texas Tech, where he averaged a mere 4 points per game. As soon as he got to Pitt in 2021, he made a big impact, where he averaged 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Burton stays under the radar as he does not get a lot of attention, but his numbers show that he has the skill to have a great year this year. He dropped 24 points to beat ACC rival NC State, and 31 against UNC.

-Blake Hinson: (Junior, Forward)

Blake Hinson transferred to Pittsburgh this offseason, after he missed 2 years due to personal medical reasons. Hinson was alright beforehand in OleMiss, putting up decent numbers, however as soon as Hinson came to Pitt, he dropped 28 points in a single half in a exhibition game against William and Mary. He did not slow down as in his first regular season game, Blake dropped another 27 against UTM. Hinson can shoot lights out, and people need to be excited for him. So far Blake also played his best game in a 30 point win against a good BIG10 Northwestern team, where he put up 22 points, shooting ⅘ from 3.

-Dior Johnson: (Freshman, Guard)

After committing and decommitting to Oregon and Syrcacuse, the kid from New York made it official that he was going to be playing at Pitt. His expectations were high, but after an altercation resulting in 2 misdemeanors and 1 year of prohibition, Dior Johnson was ultimately suspended by the team indefinitely. Fans are hoping he can come back, but the team is following the school’s protocols, and has not made it clear if there is a possible return.

Guillermo and Jorge Diaz Twins: (Freshmen, Center)

The 6 ’10 and 6′ 11 Guillermo and Jorge Diaz Graham are every college basketball fan’s dream. Young, big, genuine kids. The twins committed to Pitt together over the spring, and since then have added so much size to the already size-heavy team. The kids are still young, and have not played as much as we hoped, especially Guillermo, but when they have, they have been great. Jorge’s best game came against FDU with a solid 11 points, where Guillermo’s best game was against VCU dropping 7.

Federiko Federiko: (Sophomore, Center)

Just like the twins, the 6’11 center is such a threat to other teams because of his size. Fede2Times, as they call him, is from Finland and played for the national Finland team. Fede played JUCO at Northern Oklahoma, but ever since transferring to Pitt, Federiko Federiko has already made an impact to the team with his size, posting a solid 17 points and 14 rebounds against Sacred Heart.

Despite being ranked 14th out of 15 in the preseason ACC rankings, the Panthers are really proving everyone wrong. While the most important part of the season is coming up, divisional play, Pitt proved they can compete with the big boys in the pre season.

It is also worth noting that Pitt is ranked 70/353 in the nation in the KenPom rankings and 77/253 in the NET rankings, different ranking algorithms that take your strength of schedule and adjusted offense and defense into consideration. Pitt was ranked 195 last season, so it is obvious of the great improvement of this team. Pitt is also one of 30 teams with multiple quadrant wins, meaning they have multiple wins over teams in the 25% percentile.