Pitt men’s basketball adds three in early signing period

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

With the early recruit signing period coming to a close, the Pitt men’s basketball team announced the three newest members of the Panther Hoops program.

A University release announced that Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon signed three out-of-state recruits —Justice Kithcart, Crisshawn Clark and Corey Manigault — to the team’s 2016 recruiting class. They will join the Panthers for the 2016-2017 season.

“We have kids that are from good, solid programs and have been with them for a number of years,” Dixon said. “They all have good size for their position, and they’re good students at the same time. I’m excited about the group. They all come from winning programs, and they’re excited about being at the University of Pittsburgh.”

These three additions will prove critical for the Panthers, who have four players graduating following the season. Pitt still has until May 18 to fill out the remainder of its recruiting class.

The 6-foot-1-inch Kithcart is a three-star guard from Virginia Episcopal School. As a junior, he averaged 11.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

He chose Pitt over offers from Memphis, TCU, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.

Dixon said Kithcart possesses many components of a prototypical successful collegiate guard.

“Justice is a tough, physical, strong guard who plays hard,” Dixon said in the release. “He played point guard for probably the best team [Team Loaded, Virginia] in the country last year in terms of AAU programs. He plays with great intensity while being very unselfish. He is a driver who can make it to the basket as well as an attacker who gets to the foul line, and I like those things.”

The other guard in the class, Crisshawn Clark, is a 6-foot-4-inch junior college transfer. Originally from Huber Heights, Ohio, Clark played at Canada College in Redwood City, California, averaging 15.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in his freshman year there.

Clark chose Pitt over offers from Butler, California, Nevada, Oregon and St. Mary’s.

He will miss his 2015-2016 season at Canada College due to an unspecified knee injury.

Without acknowledging the injury, Dixon expressed his excitement for Clark, who will have three years of eligibility remaining.

“Crisshawn is an athletic guard with good size,” Dixon said. “He will have three years to play, so he will be an older kid when he gets here. He’s very versatile — he can shoot the ball, play point guard and guard as well on defense. He’s a good athlete and very hard worker.”

The most heralded player of the class thus far — 6-foot-8-inch forward Corey Manigault — accompanies Kithcart and Clark.

Manigault is a four-star prospect from Suitland, Maryland. At Paul IV in Virginia, Manigault averaged 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, thriving as big man.

Many schools heavily recruited Manigault, who ended up choosing Pitt over Miami, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Xavier and Maryland.

Dixon highlighted Manigault’s youth and his versatility as some of the recruit’s strengths.

“Corey is a really good player and is young for his class,” Dixon said. “He didn’t play a lot in the summer with some injuries, but we are really fortunate to get him. He has good size for someone who is still growing. He can play inside and out, has good skills and very strong hands with a soft touch.”

Aside from his flexibility on the court, Dixon also praised his new recruit’s shooting ability.

“He will be a good free throw shooter, so we have to get him to the foul line,” Dixon said. “And he can also hit midrange jump shots.”

The Pitt men’s basketball team next plays on Friday at the Petersen Events Center when they take on the Detroit Titans. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.