Herd Signs Point Guard Damier Pitts Wednesday

Marshall University head men's basketball coach Donnie Jones announced today the signing of Damier Pitts, a point guard from Charlotte, N.C., to a National Letter of Intent. Pitts will be eligible to compete for the Thundering Herd in the fall of 2008. Pitts, 5-foot-10, will play his first year at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy this season as a senior.

Last season, while at Charlotte Christian, Pitts averaged 17 points, four assists and four rebounds for the Knights.

"Damier has an exceptional basketball mind and a great feel for how to lead and run a basketball team," said Donnie Jones, in his first season as the Marshall head coach. "He will give us instant help in the backcourt and have the opportunity to play major minutes next season with our need of a point guard."

Pitts reminds Jones, who spent the last 11 seasons as an assistant coach at Florida, of a former Gator point guard who, after winning back-to-back national championships, was selected in last summer's NBA Draft. "He reminds me a lot of Taurean Green," Jones said. "They both possess the unique ability to make others around them better.

"We're excited to have him help lead us to the next level with our basketball program at Marshall." Pitts was selected to the 2007 Charlotte Weekly Boys' Basketball Super Team and was a North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association AAA all-state member.

A highly-recruited prospect that garnered heavy interest from several programs across the country, Pitts narrowed his final four choices to Marshall, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Florida.

Damier Pitts, shown in uniform at Charlotte Christian, signed Wednesday with Marshall on the opening day of basketball signing. He will play 2007-08 at Hargrave Military Academy and join the Herd in 2008-09. photo from Scout.com

2008 Scout.com HS Basketball Rankings (full list):
Position: PG
Position Rank: No. 39
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
STRENGTHS: Big-Game Player, Perimeter Shot
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Size for Position, True Point Guard.

Rated as the 39th best point guard in the country by Scout.com, a prominent basketball scouting service, national scouting director Dave Telep had this to say about Pitts: "Damier Pitts is a bulldog. He comes from winning programs in high school and through the summer. There's an element of confidence and consistency that he portrays. He's exactly the type of winner a young head coach can lean on to solidify a back court.

"Pitts began high school career with a scorer's mentality but has evolved into a point guard in the second half of his high school career. Tough competitor who has a reputation for making winning plays. He shoots it with confidence and accuracy."

Good things have come for Coach Donnie Jones over the last two days. On Tuesday, Marshall opened the Jones era with a hard-fought 60-49 win over Pikeville College. Jones was a point guard and later a coach at Pikeville, and is a member of the Bears' Hall of Fame. Markel Humphrey led the Herd with 8-of-10 shooting and 21 points, while true freshman forward Tirrell Baines nearly had a double-double in his first collegiate game with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Marshall could probably use Pitts right away, however, as MU point guard Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes suffered an ankle sprain and left the arena on crutches. He may be out for one to two weeks, leaving the Herd with senior walk-on Taurean Marshall, who did have six assists and three steals in 19 minutes against Pikeville, and freshman two-guard Matt Walls at the point when the Herd faces East Tennessee State next Tuesday in Huntington in the revival of an old Southern Conference rivalry.

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