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Help is on the way for Pittsburgh

1/23/2012

The Pittsburgh Panthers are in a rut. That’s obvious. Jamie Dixon, whom has the respect of his peers, can’t win for losing.

Think about that.

Since he’s been at Pitt, he signed two McDonald’s All-Americans. Dante Taylor and Khem Birch are his two burger boys; neither impacted the program commiserate with expectations.

Taylor hasn’t advanced his game past being a rebounder. He certainly isn’t an impact offensive player and isn’t looking like he has the stuff to be an alpha dog. Birch, after being one of only three freshmen to start under Dixon, mysteriously transferred to UNLV.

At this point, it’s fair to say Dixon could use an injection of talent directly into the main vein of the Panthers lineup. Help is on the way.

Center Steven Adams (New Zealand/Notre Dame Prep) is the most talented player he’s ever signed. Having said that, one big question lingers. Can Adams develop the kind of personality that can carry a team? Will he be able to shoulder the load ala Andrew Bogut and become a go-to-player?

Results so far have been good, but admittedly we don’t know what his personality is in terms of shouldering the burden of being the main man.

James Robinson (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) will start three or four years for the Panthers and he’ll be rock solid. In Robinson, Dixon has a kid he can trust to make good decisions, provide secondary offense and value the basketball. Robinson has a winner’s DNA and a champ’s work ethic.

This season, Pittsburgh has one top 50 caliber player on its roster. There were a handful of top 100 caliber kids but Taylor is the lone top 20 high school player Dixon recruited. Robinson is a top 50ish player and Adams is a top five quality prospect.

Unfortunately, Dixon’s heard the hype about recruits before.

This time around, Adams and Robinson look more like sure things. It would be shocking if they both don’t turn out to be integral cogs in the lineup next year.

Historically, under Dixon, the Panthers have excelled at recruiting guys who fit their system. Dixon's proven he doesn't need All-Americans to win. Over the years the Panthers prided themselves on being masters of evaluating players for their needs and the culture of their team.

It worked marvelously.

It seems like the basketball gods are ready to do them a solid because their two 2012 signees come with advance billing and we're betting they deliver.