Pitt announces Kevin Stallings as 15th head coach in program history

New Pitt men's basketball head coach Kevin Stallings will be without sophomore guard Crisshawn Clark for the 2016-17 season. (TNS)

Sunday morning, the Easter Bunny didn’t bring eggs or candy to the Pitt community. Instead, it brought a coach.

The University of Pittsburgh confirmed various reports, officially announcing the hiring of Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings as the program’s new head basketball coach.

Stallings has served as the head coach for the Commodores for the past 17 seasons, compiling a 332-220 record. Before Vanderbilt, he served as the head coach at Illinois State from 1993-1999.

In a release, the 55-year-old coach heaped praise on his new city, while counting his blessings for the opportunity.

“Pitt has a tremendous basketball tradition, and I am looking forward to building on the excellent foundation that is in place on the court and in the classroom,” Stalling said. “The city of Pittsburgh is outstanding and I have a great deal of respect for the people that make it such a special place. I look forward to seeing their support along with that of the Oakland Zoo next season at the Petersen Events Center.”

Stallings will replace Jamie Dixon, who left Pitt for his alma mater TCU after a 13-year run as head coach.

After noting that the two share the same goal of getting Pitt to the Final Four, Athletic Director Scott Barnes lauded Stallings’ track record.

“Kevin has a successful track record recruiting the ACC footprint and beyond, and is one of the best coaches in the country at building an offense around his talent,” Barnes said in the release. “He plays a fun, up-tempo style that players love and fans will enjoy. Kevin runs his program with impeccable character and has a high care factor and connection with his         student-athletes.”

Stallings is a Purdue alum, and was an assistant coach there from 1982-1988, as well as at Kansas from 1988-1993.

Pitt’s new coach went to work quickly, as Stallings offered a scholarship to Paul VI Catholic High School of Fairfax, Virginia, point guard Aaron Thompson, according to Thompson’s Twitter account. Stallings had previously offered Thompson while at Vanderbilt.

Thompson is a teammate of Pitt signee Corey Manigault, who told The Pitt News that he was waiting to see who the Panthers hired at head coach before determining whether or not he would ask to be released.

Stallings also has some prior history with a current Pitt player. Pitt forward and Beaver County native Sheldon Jeter signed with Stallings and Vanderbilt out of high school, but decided to transfer after his freshman year, hoping to go closer to home.

But Stallings blocked Jeter’s attempt to transfer to Pitt, forcing him to play at Polk State College for a season before eventually becoming a Panther.

Stallings inherits a team that went 21-12 this season, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Wisconsin.

Barnes will officially introduce Stallings at a press conference at the Petersen Events Center Monday at 2:30 p.m.

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