By Chris Dokish
The Pitt basketball program has not even started the 2007-08 season yet, but that hasn’t stopped the coaching staff from continually working with future seasons in mind.
The Panthers will host national top 50 prospect KEVIN JONES of Mt. Vernon (NY) High School November 2-5, including Pitt’s exhibition game against IUP on the 4th. Verbal commits Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs will also be in attendance.
The available scholarship for Jones opened up when 6’7” wing Darnell Dodson of Greenbelt, MD failed to qualify under NCAA rules. Despite much speculation that the basketball staff must have known this would happen, and which would explain their ongoing recruiting for the 2008 class, a source close to the situation revealed to PSR that the staff expected Dodson to qualify. In fact, Dodson was already attending classes at Pitt and involved in workouts when the staff was made aware he did not get through the NCAA Clearinghouse.
This does not mean, however, that Dodson will not play for Panthers in the future. Dodson has transferred to Miami-Dade Junior College in Florida, whose head coach, Matt Eisele, attended Pitt and is a friend of Pitt assistant coach Orlando Antigua. It is common practice in similar situations for a college program to place a non-qualified player into a school that they know well and will, with the knowledge and approval of the player, keep other schools away from trying to sign him once he is eligible again. In this case, it is expected that Dodson will redshirt at Miami-Dade this season, then come to Pitt in two years with three years of eligibility remaining.
If the Panthers fail to land Kevin Jones, they are still looking at other candidates to take the final ’08 scholarship. While none have been offered yet, the most intriguing may be 6’4” Dominican shooting guard GERARDO SUERO. Sometimes called “the one man fast break”, Suero is an offensive machine who can score from all over the court. Despite playing at juggernaut prep school Our Savior New American School in Centereach, NY, and lighting it up at a few events—including scoring 35 at the prestigious IS8 league—Suero is not well scouted.
Most scouting is done in the summer when the vast amount of AAU tournaments are played, but Suero instead went back home to the Dominican Republic this summer. Pitt’s Antigua, however, is from the Dominican and he has kept tabs on the talented sleeper.