The Pitt men's basketball team might just be entering the meat of its season, but the coaching staff has been diligently working on tightening up a few loose ends in closing out the 2013 recruiting class.
With an already versatile Mike Young and Josh Newkirk in the hopper, the Panthers look to inherent maybe one of the most versatile pieces of the 2013 high school class in Notre Dame Prep wing, Jamel Artis. I use the term wing very loosely in labeling Artis because he is a man of many talents.
Back when I spoke to him in September about where his recruitment stood, he told me that he was being recruited by some schools as a small forward, and by others as a point guard. That alone should give you an idea of how well-rounded Artis really is.
Jamel Artis is originally from the Baltimore, Maryland area and recently transferred within the prep ranks from Vermont Academy to Notre Dame Prep for his final year of play. I was recently able to catch Artis in action at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, Connecticut a few weeks back. His days of playing on the AAU circuit with the Baltimore Elite program allowed for him to show off his many talents, but his team showcased a lot of ball-dominant guards that did not allow for Artis to show off his entire package.
Fast forward ahead to the prep level and Artis has been given the keys to the car and has shown off not just his ability to put the ball on the floor, but also create for others and to play a point-forward role on the court and is a matchup problem every time out. However, Artis has continued to work and progress in many areas, but more specifically, at two specific facets that should allow for his transition to the college game next year to be even smoother for most.
"I have focused on getting quicker and crashing the boards on each possession." This focus and tenacity was definitely on display when I saw him in Connecticut with which he was able to blow by smaller defenders out on top of the key and also rebound the ball at a pretty high rate.
The possible broadcast journalist major seems pretty intent on his plans for college next year. Usually at this stage during a player's senior year, guys have a list of schools narrowed down to a group of four or five. This is not the case for Artis. When asked if it was still down to Pitt and LaSalle for his services like it had been back in September, or if anyone else had reared theirs heads into obtaining his abilities, Artis replied with:
"It's just me and Pitt."
Of course, there is a variety of things that go down behind closed doors that the general public is not aware of, but Artis did mention that he sees himself committing to the soon-to-be ACC institution around February. The 6'6 point-forward was sure to note some of the things that really jumped out to him about Pitt.
"I really like there pace that they play at, how they use a lot of ball screens, and how everyone plays hard," Artis said.
Artis also mentioned that the move to the ACC was the right move since the Big East is falling apart and there is more competition and a bigger spotlight in the ACC.
Pitt fans should be very excited about this possible 2013 acquisition to the Pittsburgh basketball program. Artis' idea for his next four years in Oakland is to pretty straightforward:
"Bring another scorer to the team or get people open by running the show," Artis said.
Strong words out of a high school senior, but they are words that I am confident Artis can support. He is as entertaining of a player that you will find throughout the prep ranks and should be a welcomed member to the Oakland Zoo. Artis will look to jump right into the mix and already has a strong connection with another 2013 Pitt recruit in Mike Young.
"I talk to Mike Young all the time," Artis said. "We are really cool. He was my roommate at St. Benedict's."
Hopefully these two can one day rekindle the friendship that they built a few years back in Jersey and bring a new day for Pitt basketball in a new conference that is the ACC.