Unlike Notre Dame, the Panthers made their mark on the ACC in the program’s first year out of the Big East. Led by fifth year senior standout Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh finished the season fifth with a 26-10 (11-7) record, and made it to the ACC tournament semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion Virginia. The Panthers played stifling defense from the gate, holding opponents to just 62 PPG (20th nationally). Although they are losing a strong senior class, Pitt will not be a team to sleep on next year. Cameron Wright will be back for his senior year, along with a number of rotation players who made the most of their limited minutes last season. Additionally, with transfers Haughton and Jeter becoming eligible this year, coach Jamie Dixon will have a number of reliable options off the bench, much like last season.
This year, the Panthers are looking to improve on their second round exit to top-seed Florida in the NCAA tournament. Their odds getting into the tournament are favorable, but whether they have enough talent to make it to the Sweet 16 and beyond remains to be seen.
Lamar Patterson (17.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.3 APG)
A five year player, Patterson saved his best performance for last. He led the team in scoring and assists, and played shutdown defense while picking pockets to the tune of 1.4 SPG. His talent got noticed, and he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. The young guys on the roster will have to step it up in Patterson’s absence, but Wright will be a capable leader next season.
Talib Zanna, PF (13.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 59 FG%)
Zanna finished his senior year as one of the best power forwards in the ACC. His 8.8 RPG tied him with Duke’s Jabari Parker for tops in the conference, and he always stepped up his game when the team needed him. His defining moment came during the program’s first game at the Coliseum, where Zanna dropped 19 points and grabbed 21 rebounds on the way to an 80-75 upset over UNC.
Sheldon Jeter, SF
Jeter transferred from Vanderbilt after the 2013 season, and after sitting a year, he is now eligible to play for Pitt. Although he has terrific athletic ability, it usually comes out in transition; his game is best suited for playing on the wing, where he shot north of 39% from three his freshman year. Jeter will give coach Dixon a lot of options as a productive player off the bench.