After winning 13 straight games and returning to the Top 25 for the first time since 1998, TCU’s found the going tough in the rugged Big 12. Trent Johnson’s Horned Frogs have lost three straight, most recently falling to No. 21 Baylor 66-59 in overtime Saturday afternoon.
But even in defeat guard Trey Zeigler managed to make a highlight-reel caliber play, dunking on Baylor’s Taurean Waller-Prince in the second half. Zeigler, who previously played at both Central Michigan and Pittsburgh, finished the game with nine points and four assists before fouling out. Waller-Prince, on the other hand, contributed 17 points and eight rebounds for the Bears.
We’ve heard a lot about Luke Hancock as we run up to the 2012-13 season, and for good reason. The George Mason transfer could be the missing piece that will push last year’s Final Four-worthy Louisville Cardinals the rest of the way to a national title.
The 6’5″ Hancock displayed a nice all-around game at Mason, averaging 10.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a steal per game in his final season in northern Virginia. The Cards can definitely use his steady presence. But will he be the most impactful transfer in the league?
Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard doesn’t think so. He puts Hancock smack in the middle of his top five transfer players in the Big East, at No. 3. Below Hancock are Wally Judge, who fled the Kansas State Wildcats to become a Rutgers Scarlet Knight, and Brian Oliver of Seton Hall. Oliver is the true Undercover Brother of the group – many may not even remember his time at Georgia Tech.
So, with Hancock in the third spot, who does Waters think may be even better? He points to two players who will attempt to help proud programs back to the heights. Tony Chennault, a full-time starter for Wake Forest last season, has been granted a waiver to start playing immediately for Villanova, following the shooting death of his brother.
Topping the list is a player who truly hid his light under a bushel while playing for his father in the seldom-televised MAC.
1. Trey Zeigler, Pittsburgh: Don’t let the fact that Zeigler transferred to Pittsburgh from Central Michigan fool you. Zeigler, a 6-5 guard, was never a Mid-American Conference level recruit. He went to Central Michigan to play for his father, Ernie, who was let go after last season. Zeigler received a waiver to play immediately at Pitt. In his two years at Central Michigan, Zeigler scored 1,011 points. He hit double-figures 54 times in 63 career games there. Last year, he averaged a team-high 15.6 points per game, which ranked third in the MAC. He also led Central Michigan with 6.7 rebounds per game. Zeigler could have a huge impact on Pitt where he’ll get the chance to replace Ashton Gibbs in the Panthers’ starting lineup.
Zeigler has been considered a likely NBA player for some time. If he’s able to make Pitt’s final Big East season a truly memorable one, he may fulfill that potential sooner rather than later.
Pitt had an abysmal 2011-2012 season. The Panthers’ 22-17 record provides definitive proof that a 20-game season is no longer a meaningful measure of success, as it includes a 6-14 conference mark and an 8-game losing streak that effectively put the perennial contender out of the running in late January. With the team scheduled to move to the ACC, many Big East fans may have considered the flop to be just desserts.
As of right now, however, the Panthers have something else to celebrate other than that CBI championship banner. Sought-after sophomore transfer Trey Zeigler announced via Twitter minutes ago that he will be attending Pitt next season.
The message was concise: “Just committed to the University of Pittsburgh! #hail2pitt”
For those who don’t know a Chippewa from a Bronco from an Eagle in the directional-Michigan depths of the MAC, the name Trey Zeigler might not mean much. The fact is, Zeigler was a major recruiting coup for the Chippewas of Central Michigan. Unlike the majority of Mid-American Conference starters, Zeigler fielded interest from the likes of Duke, Michigan and UCLA before deciding to stay and play for his pops, Ernie Zeigler, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. When the Chippewas failed to capitalize on the 6’5″ prep star’s game, winning just 10 and 11 games in his first two seasons, Ernie was fired.
Rather than play for his dad’s replacement, Providence cast-off Keno Davis, Trey opened up his recruitment, and we now know that he has chosen to throw in his lot with Jamie Dixon. This is very good news for the Panther faithful. Zeigler was considered to be an NBA-level talent before his profile stagnated along with Central Michigan’s prospects. The younger Ziegler has been doing his part all along; he averaged 16 points per game over his first two seasons, and showed an impressive ability to kick in rebounds, assists, steals and even blocks as he attempted to will his team to a few more wins. Perhaps even more impressively, Zeigler didn’t foul out of a single game while basically carrying the team last year.
Watching what has become of Dixon’s mentor and predecessor Ben Howland in his sojourn at UCLA, observers may wonder if Dixon is due for a similar dropoff. The successful recruitment of Zeigler – by all accounts a model citizen – should put some of those fears to rest.