Having already received a commitment from one graduate student in guard Sterling Smith earlier this spring, Pittsburgh added a second Sunday night in the form of former Brown power forward Rafael Maia. News of Maia’s commitment was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald with other outlets reporting the same shortly thereafter, and as a graduate student he’ll be eligible to play immediately for the Panthers.
In 2014-15, his fourth as a member of the Brown program the 6-foot-9 Maia averaged 9.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, shooting 53.8 percent from the field. After being ruled ineligible for competition by the NCAA as a freshman in 2011-12, Maia led the Ivy League in rebounding in each of the next three seasons.
Making the jump from the Ivy League to the ACC isn’t easy, but Maia adds depth and a particular skill (rebounding) to a Pittsburgh roster that can use that kind of boost in 2015-16. Last season the Panthers ranked tenth in the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage (68.7 percent), a number that needs to improve if they’re to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out a season ago.
Maia joins an interior rotation that will include rising junior Michael Young and 6-foot-11 junior college transfer Rozelle Nix. In total Pitt currently has four newcomers joining the program, with freshman Damon Wilson joining Maia, Smith and Nix, and according to Rivals.com they’ll be hosting former Seton Hall guard Sterling Gibbs later this week.