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.
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If you’re a college coach seeking a 6-foot-10, 215-pound Big East-level forward at this late date, you should know about Walter Pitchford.
Pitchford, out of Richmond (Ind.) New Creations Basketball Academy, has asked to be released from his Letter of Intent to DePaul but hasn’t received it yet.
“I’m still waiting,” Pitchford, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native, said Friday by phone. “The longest I have to wait is around nine [more] days until I can get my release fully. It could be sooner than that.”
DePaul had no immediate comment on the matter.
Pitchford and his father, Walter Sr., said they were told by DePaul officials that he would receive his release within 30 days of when he first asked for it. The father mentioned June 10 as the end of the 30-day period.
“The school officials have indicated to me that they are going to release Walter,” Walter Sr. said. “I know that it should be within the timeframe that the NCAA has set forth.”
Pitchford says he wants a release in the wake of the coaching change that ushered in former Clemson coach Oliver Purnell to replace interim coach Tracy Webster. Pitchford initially committed to former DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright.
Of Purnell, Pitchford said, “We spoke by phone for a minute. Besides that I haven’t met him or anything.”
The Blue Demons have signed four commits in Pitchford, 6-9 forward Cleveland Melvin, 6-5 guard/forward Moses Morgan and 6-4 guard Brandon Young.
Asked if he thinks Purnell still wants him, Pitchford said, “I think he still wants me to come.”
The coaching change isn’t the only reason Pitchford wants out. He mentioned the crime in Chicago as an important factor.
“The crime that’s going on,” he said. “The shootings, the killings, a lot of other reason besides that [the coaching change].”
In a summary of Pitchford on the New Creations website, head coach Anthony Cole wrote: “At 6’10 he’s a presence that must be respected whether he’s 20 feet from the basket or posting up in the paint. Walter if nothing else is versatile. He’s able to play the 3, 4, or the 5 spot and be equally as good at each.
“Walter has unlimited potential and boundless opportunity will await him in life because of his athletic gifts and size. The question isn’t will Walter play big time college basketball. The question is how well will he do and can he live up to his full potential.”
Pitchford reportedly chose DePaul over offers from Michigan, Minnesota and George Washington, with interest from Georgetown and Arizona State.
A Big East rule prohibits players from signing Letters of Intent with two league schools, and DePaul’s release could well prevent him from transferring within the league anyway.
Thus, Pitchford would likely have to go somewhere outside the Big East, yet he says he has no schools in mind.
“We really don’t know,” Walter Sr. said. “We’re just open to see what can happen when he does get his release.”
(Photo courtesy New Creations)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.