With five of their top six scorers from last season returning, Pittsburgh should not lack for scoring in 2015-16. One of those returnees is junior forward Michael Young, who averaged 13.4 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game last season with Jamel Artis (13.6 ppg) being the only Panther with a higher scoring average. However Young put forth those numbers playing out of position, as the Panthers’ lack of size led to him serving as the team’s starting center despite being 6-foot-9.
With that being the case adding size was a goal for head coach Jamie Dixon and his staff, and doing so this offseason should benefit Young. Joining the program are 7-foot junior college transfer Rozelle Nix and two graduate students in Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (from Richmond) and Rafael Maia (Brown), providing the Panthers with a noticeable (and necessary) boost in the front court.
And in a story written by John Harris of the Pittsburgh Tribune, Young noted that these additions can help the Panthers offensively as they get used to the new 30-second shot clock.
“With me going back [to the power forward spot], Jamel playing (small forward), we’ve got size at (shooting guard) — and (point guard) through (power forward) being able to handle the (ball). I don’t think the shot clock is really going to affect us,” Young said. “Me being able to get a rebound and push the ball upcourt and those guys running. Guys like Rozelle and Alonzo, they can easily get a rebound, take one dribble and make a nice outlet pass.”
Pittsburgh finished the 2014-15 season with a 19-15 overall record, going 8-10 in ACC play and missing out on the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012. In order to navigate what should be a deeper ACC the Panthers need to get better on the defensive glass, as they finished the season ranked tenth in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage.
The pieces Pitt will add to their front court have the potential to help in that regard, with Maia leading the Ivy League in rebounding (8.7 rpg) and Nix pulling down 9.5 caroms per game at Pensacola State CC last season. And if the newcomers meet early expectations, that will benefit Young and his teammates as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament.