The University of Pittsburgh football team trounced the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday to open the 2006 football season. Amongst the tallest visitors in attendance was 6-foot-10 inch, 250 pound center Gary McGhee from Anderson Highlands High School in Anderson, IN. McGhee was accompanied by Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon, Assistant Coach Orlando Antigua and Pitt senior center Aaron Gray. The quintet seemed to standout like a group of rock stars.
It appears the positive karma that flowed from the Panthers decisive victory may have affected McGhee.
"I really enjoyed the football game and the excitement of the crowd. You could tell that the Pitt has great fans," stated McGhee. "I got to meet a lot of students and hang out with most of the basketball team at the game. It was great. I went to the game with Coach (Jamie) Dixon, Coach (Orlando) Antigua, Aaron Gray, Tyrell Biggs and Keith Benjamin."
McGhee joins fellow class of 2007 commitments Bradley Wanamaker (6-foot-4 inches, 200 pounds) from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia, PA and Darnell Dodson (6-foot-7 inches, 210 pounds) from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, MD. Wisconsin was the other finalist for his services. Michigan, DePaul, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State had extended Gary scholarship offers. Indiana was heavily involved until they secured a commitment from a blue-chip big man.
"I had sort of told Coach (Mike) Rice that I was going to come to Pitt during the football game. I actually told Coach Dixon today (Sunday)," he said. "We drove to the airport and he asked me if I was going to be a Panther. I looked at him and told him I was committing. He was really happy."
"Aaron Gray was the guy I looked at. He came to Pitt and he wasn't highly recruited. The coaching staff made him into a better player and he's expected to be taken in the NBA draft," he said. "I really like the coaching staff. They are a great good of guys and I believe they will really help me develop into a better player."
"I was really impressed with Coach Dixon. It was clear to me that I would respond to his style of coaching."
When asked to pontificate on his future, he stated, "I really can't wait to get to Pittsburgh. When I get there, Aaron Gary and a few other big men will be gone. I hope to step in and give positive minutes. I feel confident I can contribute my first year there."
The PantherDigest.com recently spoke with Anderson Highlands High School Head Basketball Coach Phil Spoljaric to gain perspective on McGhee. He stated, "Gary is roughly 6-foot-10 inches tall and 245 pounds. He led the state of Indiana in rebounding last year with 13.1 a game."
"Gary is your typical big man. He's a little more advanced with the defensive part of his game but his offense is improving. Gary led our team with 16.3 points per game."
McGhee was the starting center for the AAU Team SYF Players. He had an outstanding summer and a number of upper echelon programs took notice. His traveling team landed several tiles over the summer including the Super Showcase in Orlando, FL and the Nike Memorial Day Classic.
When asked about McGhee's strengths, he stated, "He's a great, great rebounder. For a big man, he has a solid mid-range shot. Gary is a big player and he's only going to grow stronger as he matures. He has a great head on his shoulders and he's athletic for his size."
"The sky is the limit for his potential. He's a mature young man that continues to grow. His upside is tremendous. I believe he has a chance to make it big with a bit time program."
Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at email@example.com.