Alonzo Nelson-Ododa

Pittsburgh’s Michael Young looking to benefit from move back to natural position

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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.

Pitt lands graduate transfer big man from Richmond

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Pitt landed a graduate transfer big man as Richmond forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa committed to the Panthers. The 6-foot-9 Nelson-Ododa made his official announcement on Twitter.

Nelson-Ododa averaged 6.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game for the Spiders last season in 23 minutes of action per game. With the Panthers already adding another graduate transfer big man in Rafael Maia, to go along with Rozelle Nix, Pitt has done a nice job of re-stocking their front court rotation this offseason.

Adding Nelson-Ododa isn’t a huge impact, but he is a solid shot blocker who should be able to protect the rim a little bit while earning some minutes this season. The Panthers felt they needed another serviceable big and used its final scholarship on a one-year rotation player.

Richmond forward has eye surgery and will be out indefinitely

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source: Getty Images
(Getty Images)

Richmond forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa will undergo surgery to repair a fractured bone in his right eye on Tuesday morning, according to a release from the school. Nelson-Ododa suffered the injury in the first half of Richmond’s game against Rhode Island on Sunday and is out indefinitely.

The junior also suffered a concussion on the play.

The 6-foot-9 forward was averaging 7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and was sixth in the A-10 at 1.6 blocks per game for the Spiders.

Richmond sits at 12-11 on the season with a 5-5 record in the Atlantic 10. After an upset win over VCU last Saturday, the Spiders have dropped two consecutive games and will miss the inside defensive presence of Nelson-Ododa.