Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A healthy Levance Fields returned to the Pittsburgh lineup Friday night and helped the No. 5 Panthers rout Fairleigh Dickinson, 86-63.
Fields’ status was uncertain until minutes before gametime. The senior missed a dozen games with a broken left foot that occurred in late December, then fractured it again in August and needed a bone graft operation. He was out for Pitt’s two exhibition games, but had no apparent problems with his foot while getting 15 points and eight assists in 25 minutes.
“He really changes our team when he plays,” coach Jamie Dixon said.
Dixon said beforehand he wouldn’t rush Fields back, but Fields, a Brooklyn native, said he wasn’t worried about playing so soon after being reinjured.
“I feel fine,” said Fields, who averaged 11.9 points on a 27-10 team last season. “It’s been 11 months since I was able to do what I used to do. I played like I played before I was hurt.”
Fields’ value to the reigning Big East Conference tournament champions was apparent from the opening tip; the Panthers are 52-12 in his career when he starts. They lost six of 14 when he wasn’t in the lineup last season, when they were beaten by Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“He looks like he’s back to me,” Blair said.
Meantime, Fields told The New York Times that he considered playing for St. John’s but wanted to go someplace with a winning tradition.
“It’s been hard, pretty much, for guys to go there,” Fields said. “I was close to going to St. John’s, I really wanted to go to St. John’s, but the situation they were in and the way the program was going. That’s no shot at Norm Roberts. I think he’s a great guy and I still speak to him today. I still think sometimes, what if I was at St. John’s? It’s just tough. There’s not a lot of winning going on and guys want to go where they’re going to have a chance to go to the NCAA and things of that nature.”
St. John’s recruiting situation is looking up now that the Red Storm secured commitments from guards Omari Lawrence of South Kent (Conn.) and Dwight Hardyof Indian Hills Community College (Iowa).
The Johnnies have one scholarship remaining for next year and hope to land Brooklyn Lincoln star Lance Stephenson.
Stephenson won’t commit in the early signing period (Nov. 12-19) and is considering St. John’s, Kansas, Memphis, USC and UCLA.
(The AP contributed to this report)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.