Dixon high on Nigerian center

University of Pittsburgh Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon has been searching for big men to eventually replace towering center Aaron Gray. It appears that he has found a suitable candidate in South Kent, CT. Pitt has been keeping a very close eye on 2007 center Ayodele Coker (6-ft.-10 inches, 240 pounds) from South Kent Prep School.

"Pitt, along with a bunch of major programs, like him very much," stated South Kent Prep School Head Basketball Coach Raphael Chillious. "Pitt, Kentucky, Wake Forest and Maryland are just a few of the programs looking at him."

The Panthers have already added South Kent Prep School's team captain Gilbert Brown. Brown, a member of the class of 2006, is considered the most athletic player in prep school basketball. Pitt has already offered 2007 power forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning (6-ft-9 inches, 225 pounds) a scholarship. Bryan-Amaning, another South Kent Prep School product, happens to be close friends with Brown.

Ayodele, a native of Nigeria, has been nicknamed "Dele" by his teammates.

When asked about Coker's strengths, Coach Chillious replied, "His strength is his strength. He's very strong and he's intense. Ayodele is a monster in the paint."

"His versatility is a huge strength. He's athletic enough to guard people on the perimeter. We once had him guard a point guard. The guard wasn't too quick and Ayodele was able to keep with him."

Developing 2006 big man Austin Wallace from the Bronx, NY (6 foot 9 inches, 225 pounds) has verbally committed to the Panthers. Wallace, only 17 years old, continues to develop physically and most believe he will eventually grow into a 6 foot 10 inch center prospect.

"Ayodele is growing into a shot blocker on the defensive end. Big men need to know how and when to block a shot. He's in the process of learning that. Ayodele is a good defender that communicates well on that end of the floor."

What about Coker's ability on the offensive side of the floor? "Ayodele is working on improving his offense. He can bull you to the basket or turn around and hit a nice jump shot."

"Pitt has a good start with Gilbert. He could help the Panthers land Bryan and Ayodele. We'll see how things pan out."

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at harrypsaros@msn.com.

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