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.
Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel tours New York, New Jersey schools in recruiting blitz (UPDATED)
When Pittsburgh was successful under former coaches Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon, it often had a strong group of New York City and New Jersey recruits.
In an effort to reconnect to the fertile recruiting ground in those states, new coach Jeff Capel and assistant Tim O’Toole visited several Big Apple and Garden State prep powerhouses on Tuesday, including Archbishop Molloy, Christ the King, St. Benedict’s Prep and Archbishop Stepinac, which won the New York State Federation championship this year. On Wednesday morning, Capel also hit Lawrence Woodmere Academy.
“Pitt has a great tradition of success and I look forward to putting together a staff and team that will enable us to build on that tradition,” Capel said when he was hired away from Duke, where he was the associate head coach. “As a lifelong Steelers fan, I know Pittsburgh as the ‘City of Champions’ and our goal from day one will be to recruit, coach and develop champions on the court, in the classroom and in the community.”
At Molloy, the Pitt coaches joined assistants from Duke and Ohio State in watching Cole Anthony, the 6-foot-3 point guard ranked No. 6 in 2019 ESPN 60 and the son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony.
At Christ the King, the Pitt coaches scouted 6-10 big man Kofi Cockburn, ranked No. 36 by ESPN. Coaches from UConn, Syracuse, Cincinnati and Bryant were also on hand.
Pittsburgh offered a scholarship to Cockburn after having previously offered one to Anthony.
At Stepinac, they saw Class of 5-7 2020 guard R.J. Davis and 6-4 2021 wing Adrian Griffin Jr., the son of the former Seton Hall and NBA player Adrian Griffin.
From Stepinac, the Pitt coaches went to a 7:30 workout at St. Benedict’s Prep where they saw Class of 2019 wing Precious Achiuwa, ranked No. 12 by ESPN. Achiuwa is wide open in his recruitment, but Maryland was also in on Tuesday.
“Capel is out in his first couple weeks on the road in New York seeing the young talent and potential that is here to get to Pitt and the ACC in the near future,” Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni said. “Capel is a high-level recruiter and has assembled a great staff as they are taking the proper steps to rebuild the program. New York and New Jersey are two great areas to start.”
At Duke, Capel was instrumental in their recruitment of many one-and-done players, including Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, Brandon Ingram, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter, Jr. and Trevon Duval.
Whether he can recruit at that level to Pittsburgh remains an open question, but he’s certainly making an effort to recruit the top players in the New York area.
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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.