Originally written on Pitt Blather  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Sorry for the lack of posts. Trying to finish up a lot of work to end the year. Not to mention, once more abruptly searching for a car (and some wrangling with the insurance company over the value of the former car). This was a surprise. And one that is not good for the next couple years. Malcolm Gilbert decided to transfer so he can play with his brother at Fairfield. Yes, Fairfield. “Malcolm has asked for his release and has informed me that he wants to play with his brother,” Dixon said. “He’s a great kid, hard worker and good player. We thank Malcolm for his contribution to our program over the last year and a half and wish him much success in the future.” Obviously, it isn’t an impact this season as Gilbert was redshirting. But he was expected to be a big part of Pitt’s frontcourt over the following seasons. It’s interesting that Coach Dixon is downplaying the transfer as something that was always a possibility. Dixon said he granted Gilbert a release from his scholarship so he could transfer to Fairfield, where his brother, Marcus, is a 6-6 freshman forward. “Malcolm, before he ever got here, that was something that we talked about with his dad: Playing with his brother was something he always wanted to do. It was always in the back of their minds,” said Dixon, who planned to redshirt Gilbert this season. “I think it will work out for him. He‘ll get an opportunity to play next year.” It almost seems that the Gilbert family anticipated/hoped/expected that Marcus would get an offer to Pitt. Unfortunately, the reality is that Marcus Gilbert was a 2-star recruit with limited offers. It is a bit strange that Malcolm waited to the mid-point to decide to transfer. That lends credence to the idea that Gilbert was also unhappy with being redshirted. He was just a lot quieter about his discontent than John Johnson. Coach Dixon also took a rather blunt answer to that issue. Dixon said the issue with the 2011 recruiting class wasn’t so much their performance as much as the performance of the 2012 recruiting class. Gilbert decided to move on after freshman Steven Adams earned starting duties this season. The same was true for Johnson, who saw the writing on the wall when point guard James Robinson also earned a starting job ahead of him. “With us, the main situation is we followed up that class with a very good recruiting class,” Dixon said. “That oftentimes has more impact. You can’t have great class after great class because someone’s not going to play. “When you have a real good class before that, a real good class after that, something has to give. There are only so many minutes. We still have 11 really good players in the program. [Johnson and Gilbert] weren’t in the top 10, let’s put it that way. The realistic person will see playing time is a factor. We don’t want a guy who is not happy not playing.” This is the reality of upping the recruiting. Bring in talent, and there’s the chance others will be passed for every Dante Taylor who can handle being passed — even as a senior — on the depth chart; plenty of other players struggle with it. The other reality for Coach Dixon is that he needs to find another center. And some compromising on (what I consider erroneous) his views on certain types of transfers. Dixon believes there is a growing problem with transfers, specifically the ones who graduate from a university in four years and then are granted another year of eligibility at another school. He believes the NCAA’s generous rulings with those transfers have led to more than 400 transfers the past few years. “When that team loses a transfer, that team is looking for a player at that same time late in the spring,” Dixon said. “It’s really a cycle that will continue. They’ve opened it up. They realize it and they’re discussing it.” Dixon is not a fan of those types of transfers, but he said other coaches are gaining big advantages by adding older and experienced players. If the rules don’t change, Dixon said he will reconsider his stance on going after those players. “I just don’t understand the thing about graduating a kid,” he said. “You’ve redshirted him. You spent four years on him. You developed him. You’ve done everything right as a coach, as a program, as an institution, and then, in his fifth year, he can leave you right before the season starts. “I don’t see how that’s a good thing. It’s just not the right thing to do. But teams are making their program with kids like that. I may have to look at it. Teams are gaining great advantages because of it.” See, my  problem is that coaches — including Dixon — acting like the players owe it to the program and coach. That because the program helped develop the player, the player owes the coach and the school. Nevermind that the coach can leave any time. Forget that the kid actually put the effort in the classroom and has earned his degree in four years. That the kid may have put the program’s interests ahead of his his own in the prior years. That a player can be squeezed out if the coach decides he is no longer good enough, or there is better talent that could be brought in and they need the scholarship. Things Coach Dixon himself, has done. That’s a side issue. As is the fact that Pitt is now part of the rest of college basketball dealing with transfers. One recruiting analyst doesn‘t believe it‘s time to sound the alarms just yet, noting that 40 percent of players don‘t make it to their junior year at the school with which they signed. “Pittsburgh wouldn‘t be the first team to have that much attrition in one class,” ESPN‘s Dave Telep said. “We‘re at the highest transfer rate in the history of college basketball right now. It‘s happening to almost everybody.” Which is why cold reality is the only option. “This is the thing college basketball coaches will tell you: Nobody wants to be losing this many kids.” Pitt now has two scholarships available for the Class of 2013 but not many high-end options left. “Wait until somebody gets fired and go after their players,” Telep said. “If I‘m Jamie Dixon, I‘m scanning the waiver wire.” Whether they are 5th year seniors who can transfer and provide immediate help. Or a kid who leaves the program that initially signed them and have to sit a year. The one weird thing is so much of Pitt’s attrition has come at the center position. Austin Wallace (injury), Cassin Diggs, J.J. Richardson, Khem Birch and Malcolm Gilbert.
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