Isaiah Epps was cutting it close. While fellow freshmen Cameron Wright and J.J. Moore were able to come in and taking summer classes and play in the summer league with the rest of the Pitt team, Epps had to stay behind at Hargrave to finish out one more class. There was still a chance that he could make Pitt's Ireland trip, but unfortunately by the time his class ended, and the time it took for all the paperwork to go through, Epps also had to sit that out. Thought it was tough, he never complained, and he wasn't worried.
"It was hard, but I had to take care of business," Epps said, in his first interview as a Pitt Panther. "I kept in touch with the guys. They were filling me in on what they did over the summer, and what I got here, what I needed to do to keep my mind straight and work hard."
Epps was able to enroll in time for fall classes, and be here for the start of fall conditioning. Jamie Dixon was quick to point out that it wasn't long ago where it wasn't always automatic for every freshman to come in for summer school, and play summer league ball with the rest of the members of the team. At the same time, it's too early to tell where Epps will fit in to this team.
"He missed some things," Dixon said. "It wasn't that long ago that we didn't have summer school for the incoming freshmen. We don't get a lot out of the individuals as far as competing and defending, and doing those kinds of of things."
Dixon seems convinced of Epps' abilities. He just needs to see how he'll do now that the regular-season practices have begun.
"Skillwork-wise, he's good, but we knew that going in," Dixon added. "He shoots the ball well for a guard; a point guard. He's very skilled. He's good with the ball. He's got to get stronger. He's got to learn how to defend. We haven't seen that yet. We'll know tomorrow, and we'll see where it needs to go from there."
Epps is okay with the shooting, but if he's learned anything from being on campus for almost two months, it's the defensive mentality of the Pitt program.
"My defense has to get a little better," Epps said. "This is a defensive team. If I want to get playing time, I have to get my defense right. I'm trying to catch up. When I first got here, I was behind. Now, I'm here. I'm catching up."
Epps shows that even now most programs like to have all their freshmen on campus over the summer, that with the right attitude and willingness to play catch-up a little bit, there's still a chance for someone like him to make an impact.
As for his favorite thing about being at Pitt so far?
"The academics are good here," Epps said. "Everybody is nice here, and shows support. The chemistry is amazing. It's like family."