Panthers offer prolific scorer from Philly

The University of Pittsburgh basketball program has been looking to add firepower to its sometime anemic offense. Panthers Assistant Coach Mike Rice is in hot pursuit of a high scoring wing forward from Philadelphia, PA. Will Pitt land this blue-chip prospect? Read on for details.

The University of Pittsburgh recently received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-6 inch wing forward Darnell Dodson from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, MD. Dodson was the first player to join the Panthers' recruiting class of 2007. His commitment can be directly attributed to the efforts of new Panthers Assistant Coach Mike Rice.

Dodson's commitment hasn't stopped Coach Rice from pursing yet another scoring machine. Pitt has become heavily involved with 6-foot-5 inch, 200 pound Earl Pettis from Philadelphia. Pettis played for Neuman-Goretti High School and led his team to back to back Philadelphia Catholic League championships. He finished his career with 1,045 points. Earl averaged 14.2 points and 7 rebounds per game as a senior.

The recently spoke with Pettis and Neuman-Gortetti Assistant Coach John Moscl.

"I have known Earl since the sixth grade. He's a fine young man with no off the court issues," stated Moscl. "Earl was a three-year starter for our team and led us to two championships. He scored over 1,000 points. I believe he was a second team All-Catholic and third team All-City selection."

"Earl is 6-foot-5 inches tall and 200 pounds. He can play the "2" (shooting guard) or "3" (small forward) on the next level. Coach (Mike) Rice told me they wanted some versatile players that could play multiple positions along the perimeter."

Pettis, originally recruited by a number of Big East and Atlantic 10 schools, was recently reclassified to the class of 2007. He will begin September classes at the Patterson School in Paterson, North Carolina. Earl has received scholarship offers from Pitt, Rutgers, Providence, St. Johns, Temple, LaSalle, George Washington and Delaware.

Coach Moscl was quick to pinpoint Pettis' strengths on the basketball court. "Early is simply once heck of a player and a great scorer. He's played every position from the point guard to power forward in high school. Believe it or not, some believe he would be an effective point guard in college."

"Earl is great at getting his teammates involved. He's a team oriented player that skilled at penetrating and kicking the ball out if need be."

When asked his opinion on the Panthers chances of landing Pettis, Coach Moscl replied, "Earl is all about relationships. Coach Rice is one of the few that seem to have got through to him. He likes Coach Rice quite a bit and feels very comfortable with him. I think the Panthers have an excellent chance at adding him to their roster."

The recently spoke with Earl Pettis about his recruiting options. "I know I have four Big East offers: Pittsburgh, St. Johns, Rutgers and Providence. I'm pretty open but I like Pittsburgh a lot," stated Pettis. "I have been there once before. I visited Pittsburgh when I went to the Jam Fest. They have a beautiful arena to play in. One of the nicest I have seen."

"I'm looking for a school that's fairly close to home. Pittsburgh isn't too far away. It's a manageable distance. I want to go to a program with a winning track record and I have to feel comfortable with the players."

Earl was asked if he had a favorite entering the 2007 recruiting process and he quickly replied, "I don't have a strong favorite at this time. Some schools look better to me than others and Pittsburgh is one of my favorites. Pittsburgh has a very good chance. They will have playing time and I like feel comfortable with Coach Rice."

"I believe I'll bring a lot to a program. I play with toughness and you need toughness in the Big East. I'm a very versatile player. I can play both guard positions and small forward if need be. I think my main strength is scoring. I can get you points in different ways."

Pettis would like to make his decision during the early signing period in November.

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at

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