2007 Big Man favors Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh has one of the top basketball programs in the nation. Head Coach Jamie Dixon currently has the Panthers ranked 12th in the nation. It appears Pitt's success on the court could pay dividends when it comes to recruiting.

The Pitt Panthers have received verbal commitments from a pair of standout local products: 2007 power forward Herb Pope from Aliquippa, PA and 2008 small forward Terrelle Pryor from Jeannette, PA. Both are considered amongst the best players in that nation at their respective positions. Power forward/center Steve Swiech (6-ft-9 inches, 240 pounds) from Elizabeth Forward High School in Elizabeth, PA would like to be the next player added to the Panthers' list of commitments.

"I'm looking at a number of schools. Pitt, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Xavier and Wake Forest top my list," stated Sweich (pronounced Swick). "I have to say that Pitt is my dream school. I would love to play basketball there."

"I went to basketball camp there in the seventh grade. Since then I have always like the Panthers. I remember going there in the ninth grade when Ben Howland took over. That was the first time I thought I could possibly earn a scholarship there. Playing for Coach (Jamie) Dixon would be great. It would be an honor."

Swiech, a highly articulate and intelligent young man, averages 28.4 points per game. He has scored over 30 points on four different occasions. Steve heavily focused on conditioning over the summer and lost 30 pounds. He believes his weight loss has greatly improved his mobility and overall performance.

When asked if he was a "4" (power forward) or "5" (center), Steve quickly replied, "I can play both. I see myself as a hybrid of the two."

"I'm 17 years old and still growing. It depends on the system but I can play power forward or center. I can see myself playing center for Pitt."

Swiech is an exceptional student with a 4.0 grade point average. He would like to major in Civil Aviation and eventually become an air traffic controller. Steve recently set the Elizabeth Forward school record for most points scored with 1,146.

"I had the opportunity to unofficially visit Pitt. It was great. I met the coaches and the players. They let me watch them practice. After practice they had a pick up game and I was able to play with them. I think Pitt has a great coaching staff."

"Over the summer I was at an AAU tournament in Georgetown. Someone told me Coach Dixon was there. I was very excited to know he was there evaluating me."

Pitt junior center Aaron Gray has developed into a force, but he has one year of eligibility remaining. It appears the Swiech could be a viable replacement.

"The post is my home. I have been playing in the paint for many years and I'm comfortable there," he said. "I have built up a repertoire of moves from hooks shots and jump shots."

Swiech is fully aware of the physicality in the Big East Conference. "I know it's a tough, rugged conference. I pride myself in tough play and I believe the Big East style fits my strengths," he said. "We run a drill called "Down and Dirty" during practice. It forces you to get physical. It's also helped me with my defense."

"Coach Dixon has seen me play. Hopefully I will end up with a Panther offer."

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

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