Men’s basketball offers four prospects on first day of 2022 contact

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Kaycee Orwig | Visual Editor

Panthers head coach Jeff Capel extended four offers to 2022 prospects on Monday

By Stephen Thompson, Sports Editor

Pitt men’s basketball currently boasts the second-best 2022 recruiting class in the country, trailing only Atlantic Coast Conference rival Syracuse. The one caveat: there are only four total commitments in the class spread across four teams. But that will change quickly, as restrictions on contact with players expired at midnight on Monday.

Reports of offers and contacts began to flood in. Panthers head coach Jeff Capel joined in the mayhem, trying to add to a class headlined by four-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. He has reportedly contacted 14 players since Monday and extended four scholarship offers. Chance Westry, Dereck Lively II, Gregg Glenn and Justice Williams were the quartet of blue chippers to earn offers.

Lively was one of the first players Pitt contacted Monday, and announcement of his offer came the next night. The 6-foot-11, four-star center and former teammate of Panther signee Noah Collier has also earned offers from LSU, Miami, Penn State, Ohio State, UCLA and Providence.

Like many in his class, Lively’s skills are raw. On film he doesn’t showcase much in the way of post moves or an ability to create his own shot, but instead is often the beneficiary of tremendous passers on his Westtown School team. Freakish athleticism and soft hands allow him to catch difficult interior passes and alley-oops for scores close to the rim.

But Lively’s high motor and versatility on defense have set him apart. Westtown head coach Seth Berger uses Lively’s agility and length as a weapon on defense, often placing him at the top of a zone press where he can disrupt and trap opposing ballhandlers or as a defender on inbounds passers.

Glenn, a four-star forward from powerhouse Calvary Christian in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, plays in a similar role from the power forward spot. He makes his living on offense around the rim, grabbing rebounds for putback buckets. Even though his 6-foot-6 frame doesn’t tower above opposing big men, his 205-pound frame helps him fight for space on the block, and an impressive vertical compensates for whatever inches he gives up.

Glenn plays in the mold carved by current Panther junior forward Au’Diese Toney when he arrived in Oakland. Both are slashers and strong on the glass, using putbacks and solid defense to cover for an offensive skill set that is still developing.

Florida State, Miami, Arkansas, Florida, LSU and Maryland have also made scholarship offers to Glenn.

Capel came back to Pennsylvania to make another offer to the four-star shooting guard Westry. He stands 6-foot-4 with a strong, wiry frame he uses to fight through contact near the basket, and the rest of his offensive skills are rapidly developing.

Film of Westry’s first-year and sophomore seasons shows an improved handle and jump shot. Westry can extend defenses with deep 3-point range, and his handle becomes tighter by the season. Pitt will compete with a series of ACC foes — Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia Tech — as well as in-state rival Penn State for Westry’s commitment.

The highest-rated player the Panthers offered on Monday was Williams, a five-star, 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Philadelphia. 247Sports has Williams pegged as the No. 2 player in Pennsylvania and No. 25 player in the country for his class.

At the high-powered Peach Jam AAU tournament last summer, Williams showcased elite handle, 3-point shooting, finishing and body control on drives, in addition to a flurry of blocks. He is a complete offensive player and lives up to his five-star billing.

Pitt will have to fight hard for Williams — he already holds offers from Ole Miss, Villanova, Penn State and Maryland. That list will continue to grow as more coaches and programs fight for face time.

As the 2021 and 2022 classes begin to come together, the point guard will be a position of focus for the Panthers. As junior lead guard Xavier Johnson weighs leaving school early to begin a professional career, Capel searches for his floor general heir.

Capel contacted, but did not extend offers to, a pair of point guards on Monday — the No. 2 point guard in the country, Jaden Bradley from Concord, North Carolina, and California guard Chris Watson.

The year 2022 can feel like a lifetime away, but basketball recruiting requires coaches to plan ahead. The ratings and rankings of high school sophomores won’t contribute to college games during the upcoming season, but coaches must prepare for the future.

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