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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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon has built a perennial national powerhouse by recruiting heavily from the corridor running from New York City to Washington, D.C.
With the Panthers headed to the ACC sometime in the near future, Dixon says he has no plans to alter his recruiting philosophy.
“I don’t think it will change too much for us,” Dixon told SNY.tv during an exclusive interview Thursday at Hudson Catholic High School. “I still think we’re going to recruit in those areas. I mean, there’s a reason why we recruit and where we recruit and we’ve never focused on one area. We’ve always tried to have certain areas that we knew really well.”
Of the 13 players currently on scholarship at Pitt, three are listed as from from the greater Philly area (Nasir Robinson, Lamar Patterson and John Johnson), three are from the greater New York City area (J.J. Moore, Dante Taylor and Travon Woodall) and two are from New Jersey (Ashton Gibbs and Isaiah Epps). Two more — freshmen Malcolm Gilbert and Durand Johnson — are from Delaware and Maryland, respectively.
Dixon and his staff have recruited this fertile territory largely because Pittsburgh itself is not flush with Division 1 talent.
“We have a unique situation,” Dixon said. “We haven’t had a lot of guys within a four-hour area that have been our level, and so that’s unique. But right outside those areas we’ve got Philly and New York and D.C. and Jersey. The geography hasn’t changed for us; the location of our school hasn’t changed. So kids generally want to go to a school within that area and I think that will still stay the same.”
Although he is not permitted to comment on prospective student-athletes, Dixon was planning an ambitious recruiting day Thursday. He started at Hudson Catholic to watch 2013 standouts Reggie Cameron and Mike Young. From there he went to St. Benedict’s Prep — which produced Patterson, currently at Pitt — to see 2013 point guard Tyler Ennis and 2015 guard Isaiah Briscoe. Dixon planned to wind down the day seeing 2013 wing Tyler Roberson at Roselle Catholic before finding a hotel to watch the Tigers-Yankees game. (Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and Kansas State coach Frank Martin were also expected at Roselle Catholic.)
Dixon has also had home visits in the last few days with 2012 forwards Amile Jefferson of Philly Friends Central and the mother of Findlay Prep forward Anthony Bennett.
He is due to speak Friday afternoon at Howard Garfinkel’s “Clinic to End All Clinics” at Iona College.
Dixon said he is uncertain when exactly Pitt and Syracuse will join the ACC. Big East Commissioner John Marinatto had said he intended to keep the teams in the league for their 27-month exit period, or until the 2014-15 basketball season.
Now with the departure of TCU — Dixon’s alma mater — from the Big East to the Big 12, Marinatto will be under still more pressure to add teams to the Big East — and perhaps to keep Pitt and Syracuse for as long as possible.
Asked if he thought the ACC was a more attractive option from a recruiting standpoint, Dixon said he didn’t necessarily agree with that logic.
“That remains to be seen,” he said.”It’s funny, people talking about, ‘Oh, you’re going to a really good basketball conference.’ Well, we’ve been in a pretty good basketball conference as it is.
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.