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Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Will Jamel Artis be Drafted?

While most of the intrigue around this year's NBA Draft is centering around the early Lottery picks, there's at least a bit of local intrigue related to the Panthers by way of Jamel Artis.

We've heard much less on the team's leading scorer, Michael Young, but Artis seems to be getting a decent amount of attention. Last month, he worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Sacramento Kings. Artis has also recently had workouts for the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Charlotte Hornets, via reports on Twitter. Possibly even more. If nothing else, Artis is making his way around the league.

This Hornets video, by the way, was sent out from the team's official Twitter account and shows Artis performing pretty well:

A l k at Jamel Artis (#Pittsburgh) in his #HornetsSummer draft workout. #BuzzCity pic.twitter.com/QPQ3E22wCl — Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) June 18, 2017

Artis still is no lock to be selected. And as I wrote before, some of these teams may have no plans to draft him but wanted to have him in to see if he's a summer league candidate. But are his chances significantly worse than those of Lamar Patterson, who was taken in the second round a few years ago? I don't think so. Perhaps the biggest knock on him is his age and, at 24, it's not like he couldn't still have a long career in the league if deemed a strong enough player.

Given all of that, do you expect to hear Artis' name called during the draft on Thursday?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll Will Jamel Artis be selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday? Yes No   0 votes | Results

New to the Zoo: Parker Stewart joins the 2017 Pitt class

Pitt lands an ex-Ole Miss recruit for next season.

Excited to announce I will be joining the Pittsburgh Panther family, play for Coach Stallings, and compete in best conference, the ACC ☝️ pic.twitter.com/CZhr0zkG45— Parker Stewart (@Parker2828) June 19, 2017

Pitt was able to land a much needed addition to their 2017 recruiting class yesterday, as they landed shooting guard Parker Stewart. He was a one-time Ole Miss signee, but asked for his release from his letter of intent earlier this month. He is able to join the team soon, and will be eligible to play next season.

Stewart is a 6’5” 185 pound shooting guard from Union City, Tennessee. His father, Anthony, is a division one head coach for Tennessee-Martin. Stewart is graded as a three-star by all four of the major recruiting services. In addition to Pitt, he received late interest from Georgetown and Iowa State. He held an impressive offer sheet initially with the likes of Wisconsin, Florida, and NC State and about a dozen more.

Stewart is known for one thing especially, and that’s outside shooting. He should walk into Pitt and be their top threat from the outside right away. Here is a look at his senior year at Union City.

Given the graduation of Jamel Artis and Cameron Johnson’s transfer, finding a quality outside shooter like this should help offset those losses somewhat. Landing a player like this this late overall is also impressive. It’s rare to add a good high school talent this late in the game, at this point transfers and junior college players seem to be the only additions available.

To help paint a better picture of Pitt’s ever-changing roster, I’ll give everyone a quick rundown. Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan are back as the seniors of the team. Joining the senior class is grad-transfer Monty Boykins from Lehigh. Jared Wilson-Frame is coming to Pitt with junior eligibility from junior-college. Malik Ellison is a transfer from St. John’s and will sit this upcoming season, and has two years to play after that. Beyond that, it will be six true freshmen; Parker Stewart, Marcus Carr, Kham Davis, Shamiel Stevenson, Peace Ilegomah, and Terrell Brown.

That leaves two open scholarships Pitt can use before this upcoming season. They can likely add an additional post player to help out the very thin frontcourt. Pitt’s roster is definitely imbalanced as they have six freshman and not many upperclassmen at the moment. Pitt will likely have 4, and as many as five spots to fill in the 2018 recruiting class. They are off to a pretty strong start there with four-star Bryce Golden committing to the program just days ago.

Pitt has not had a very positive offseason with a bevy of transfers, the controversial blocking of Cameron Johnson, and their fair share of recruiting misses. So to add a four-star 2018 player a few days ago, and to beat out Georgetown for a three-star player yesterday, this would rank up there with the better developments the program has had in recent memory.

Pitt baseball has three players selected in the 2017 MLB Draft

Last month, I mentioned that Pitt was unlikely to have any high picks selected in the MLB Draft. That draft was held last week and, well, that proved true as the Panthers had no picks in the top 15 rounds. A few Pitt players did eventually get taken, however.

First off the board was pitcher Josh Falk, who went to the Oakland A's in the 17th Round.  Another pitcher, Isaac Mattson, went to the Los Angeles Angels in Round 19. Finally, pitcher Josh Mitchell was scooped up in the 22nd Round by the Kansas City Royals.

No position players were taken, which wasn't terribly surprising. As I wrote last month, Pitt had only one .300 hitter this season, and that was freshman Alex Amos (who was not eligible to be drafted). No one else hit better than .281.

Even the starting pitchers taken didn't have great seasons. I thought Mattson could have been first off the board as he was solid as a reliever. He led the team in saves (4) and had a 2.87 ERA. Perhaps most importantly to scouts, he averaged better than a strikeout per inning.

Falk and Mitchell were less impressive. Falk was 3-7 with a 3.92 ERA and Mitchell was 1-5 with a 4.61 ERA. Mitchell also allowed a team-high ten home runs. Teams are looking less at records and more at 'stuff', though, so it's not as simple as looking at even typically good indicators such as ERA. Records when playing on bad teams is even less useful.

So now the question is, will any of those guys be back to try to improve their draft stock? Falk was a senior, so he was gone for sure. According to Royals Review, Mitchell has already signed. Finally, while I hadn't seen if Mattson had signed or not, his Twitter account indicates he is a 'former' Pitt pitcher, so sounds as if he's gone.

Losing Mattson out of the bullpen hurts and even though Falk and Mitchell didn't have great seasons, it still means the Panthers will need to replace 2/3 of its main rotation. But overall, Pitt isn't losing the type of production they lost last year when five players were drafted. Three of those players were taken in the first 12 rounds, including a first-rounder and a fourth-rounder.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt Basketball Recruiting: Panthers land 2018 PF/C Bryce Golden

While we're still trying to sort out the 2017-18 roster, Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings added a key player for 2018. On Thursday night, the Panthers added 6'9" power forward/center Bryce Golden.

#H2P pic.twitter.com/YsbYtzIsoI — Bryce (@bryce_golden) June 16, 2017

Golden is a 247 four-star composite recruit out of Sharpsburg, Maryland and reportedly had offers from several quality programs, including Maryland, North Carolina State, Clemson, and Xavier. He just visited with Pitt earlier this week. ESPN has him as a four-star recruit while Rivals and Scout both peg him as a three-star player.

While Scout only gives him three stars, they also have him as a top 80 player for 2018, slotting him as the 79th best recruit overall back in their March rankings.

I haven't been able to find any solid stat averages on him but given everything that's gone down with the basketball program this year, this is a hard one not to like. Stallings hasn't endeared himself to fans that much after last year's disaster, but he is known for recruiting. And his 2018 class is off to a solid start with the addition of Golden.

Here's some of his work around the rim at the Peach Jam event.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pat Signal: Blake Zubovic commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a top local lineman

I'M COMING HOME #HOMETOWNHERO18 pic.twitter.com/JaIvYwfcE8— Big Z (@blake_zubovic66) June 14, 2017

Pitt’s June recruiting train kept on rolling this afternoon, as Blake Zubovic committed to the Panthers’ football program. Zubovic is listed as a 6’5” 310 pound offensive linemen. He is from nearby Belle Vernon High School in the Pittsburgh area.

The recruiting websites all consider Zubovic to be a three-star prospect. He is listed as the 14th best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania according to Rivals.com. He had additional offers from Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Michigan State, among 11 others.

Zubovic helped lead his Belle Vernon team to an 8-3 record in 2016. If the school sounds familiar, it also produced former Pitt Panther and current Arizona Cardinals’ lineman, Dorian Johnson. Here is a look at Zubovic’s junior season for the Leopards.

Zubovic becomes the ninth member of Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, and now the third player from the WPIAL area. He is also Pitt’s sixth commitment in the past two weeks. There still appears to be some momentum on Pitt’s recruiting train, and a few more prospects are on commitment watch for the time being.

Pat Signal: Chase Brown commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a junior college offensive lineman

HAIL TO PITT pic.twitter.com/IoTmd8ifHG— Chase Brown (@chasebrown73) June 12, 2017

Pitt received some good news this afternoon, as Chase Brown committed to the Panthers’ football program. Chase Brown is a 6’6” 310 pound offensive tackle that plays for Lackawanna College in Scranton. He is a junior college transfer, and will have two years to play for Pitt starting next season.

Brown chose Pitt over offers from Virginia Tech, TCU, and Minnesota among others. He is not graded by the recruiting sites at the time, as rankings with junior college players always seem to take some time to get their official star ranking. I would speculate this is the equivalent of a three or borderline four-star type of player.

Brown initially started his college career at James Madison before taking the Junior College route. He is a native of Ashburn, Virginia and attended Briar Woods High School. Here is a better look at Brown as a player.

Pitt is also actively recruiting Lackawanna’s other offensive tackle, TJ Bradley. Perhaps landing Brown helps them with his recruitment. With Pitt potentially losing both tackles after this upcoming season, going the junior college route makes sense to help replenish the offensive line quickly.

As it has been noted a number of times, Pitt’s recruiting seems to pick up in June, and that’s the case once again. Brown is the fourth recruit to commit this month, and there are a few others on the horizon. Pitt may land 2-3 more recruits before the calendar switches over to July.

Cardiac Hill Open Thread: What's on your Mind?

A while back, I used to run a monthly open thread here. That eventually phased itself out but several people have asked about bringing it back.

For those unfamiliar, there are a few purposes of the Open Thread:

  • Talk about the latest news that we haven't covered in an article here yet
  • Discuss other Pitt-related topics that don't really fit anywhere else on the site
  • Share news, rumors, links, information
  • Shoot the breeze
I'm perfectly fine with the open forum including non-Pitt stuff. The only real requirements are to keep it civil in there.

I'll probably refresh this out every month or so and create a new one. As I did before, I'm going to also use some photos of former players here.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Will Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead return for senior season?

Okay, I'm modifying my poll expectations around here. Trying to do a daily one has been a little daunting since I've been so busy lately, so let's try to stretch these out to a week now.

FOX Sports raised some eyebrows earlier this spring when they released a mock NFL Draft for 2018. The site is not only projecting Whitehead will make the leap to the pros but even called him a first-round selection for the Dallas Cowboys. Heading into his junior year this fall, that would mean he leaves a year early.

When Whitehead signed with Pitt, many of us believed he could easily be a three-year player. But the projection came after a year when Pitt's secondary was among the worst in college football and when Whitehead himself even had a bit of a down season after his outstanding sophomore year.

Whitehead doesn't have the gaudy pass defense stats that you might expect to accompany a first-round pick. In his two years with the Panthers, he only has two interceptions. His real value for the Panthers has come in helping to stop the run and he has routinely put up double-digit tackle numbers.

A good chunk of that, though, has been due to his position. He's expected to move to the field safety spot this season and that will likely lead to more interception opportunities. As he acknowledged earlier, the new position is a little more difficult, however.

Given all of that, do you expect to see Whitehead to leave early for the NFL Draft?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll Will Jordan Whitehead leave early for the NFL? Yes No   1 votes | Results

Pitt track and field performers earn several All-American honors

Pitt's track and field members participated in the NCAA championships this past week and earned numerous All-American honors in the process.

Leading the way was Desmond Palmer. Palmer reached the finals in both of his events - the 400m hurdles and 110m hurdles. He finished fifth in the 400m hurdles event and seventh in the 110m hurdles. That earned him First-Team All-American honors in both events.

Gillian Schriever set a new Pitt record in the 10K race, finishing 13th overall and winning second team All-American honors. In addition, the women's 4x400m relay team and hammer thrower Andin Fosam both received All-American honorable mentions.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlogfor our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt transfer Cam Johnson granted full release to North Carolina without restriction

I wrote quite a bit on what I thought of the Cam Johnson situation earlier this week so I don't want to rehash much here. But the news that dropped on Thursday that he will receive a full and immediate release to North Carolina was notable.

We all know the story by now. Cam had several significant offers from major programs and, as such, it became big news when he decided he wanted to transfer inside of the conference to play at North Carolina. Pitt said that was fine, but he would need to sit out a year. Cam wasn't happy with that and after a battle that played out in the media, Pitt eventually released him to allow him to play this season.

Part of me is a little annoyed because Pitt was held to a different standard than other schools who have placed the same restrictions for years without so much of a whimper. Part of me is also kind of relieved this entire mess is over. Regardless of how you feel Pitt should have handled this, I think we can all agree that the longer it went, the bigger the distraction it was. Both sides needed to move on and this, if nothing else, allows them to do that.

As I've said already, if the idea is that we should restrict college players from transferring out of conference, I can live with that. I think there are reasons to object but if everyone is playing by the same rules, it's less of a problem for me. My point of contention is that all schools should be required to do that and not only Pitt just simply because this was a high-profile case that the national media decided was worth their attention as opposed to the gaggle of transfer restrictions that are constantly placed and go unnoticed. If all schools don't play by the same rules, then Pitt is at a disadvantage.

Case in point - Pitt allowed Cam to play for North Carolina where he could be for the next two seasons. That obviously hurts Pitt in a head to head matchup because they not only lost their best player but he joins an already strong team they are trying to defeat. Now say, for example, a star at another ACC school decides he wants to transfer to Pitt but they tell him to kick rocks and go out of conference. Pitt could potentially lose out on that player simply because a school doesn't want to play by the same rules.

How often does that scenario happen? Beats me. But the idea that Pitt, or anyone, has to play by different rules simply because their cases are more in the national spotlight is wholly unreasonable.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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