Meet The Panthers

The Pitt men's basketball team begins the 2009-10 season as young and inexperienced as ever, but the Panthers will need to grow up in a hurry.

Pittsburgh faces Wofford College from Spartanburg, S.C. tonight at 8:10 p.m.

With an assist to Pitt's media relations department, here is a look at the 2009-10 Panthers:

Chase Adams

• Senior transfer from Centenary. He is eligible to compete for Pitt immediately because Centenary is moving from NCAA Division I competition to non-scholarship NCAA Division III competition.

• At Centenary, was named the Summit League Defensive Player of the Year after both leading the league and ranking No. 8 nationally in steals. Also named an All-Summit League honorable mention selection after averaging 14.6 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game as a junior.

• Originally from Baltimore, Md. where he played at Mount St. Joseph High School.

• Plans to play professional basketball overseas after graduating.

• Social Sciences major.

Jermaine Dixon

• Younger brother of NBA player and former University of Maryland guard Juan Dixon. Dixon helped guide Maryland to the 2002 national championship.

• Raised by his brothers Phil and Juan Dixon after his parents passed away. Basketball was the family's therapy. The family moved in with their grandmother.

• Originally from Baltimore, Md. but arrived at Pitt via Tallahassee Junior College (Fla.) where he starred for two seasons.

• Aunt is Sheila Dixon, current Mayor of Baltimore.

• Switched to jersey No. 24 after wearing No. 3 as a junior last year.

• Nickname is "Maine,'' short for Jermaine.

• Majors in administration of justice.

Tim Frye

• Walk-on who majors in business/marketing.

• Wearing No. 44 this year. Became the first player at Pitt to wear No. 24 since walk-on Marcus Bowman (2002-05).

• Uncle Dave Frye played basketball at Providence and uncle Tom Albright played football at Indiana State.

• 2008-09 Big East Academic All-Star.

Ashton Gibbs

• Helped guide the Under-19 USA Basketball Team to the Gold Medal and undefeated 9-0 record at the FIBA World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand in July, 2009. Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon served as head coach of the squad.

• Led the Big East Conference in 3-point percentage last year as a freshman.

• Father Temple Gibbs played college football at Temple and roomed with NFL All-Pro cornerback Kevin Ross.

• Earned the nickname "Microwave'' for his 3-point shooting off the bench as a freshman.

• Played at same high school as Pitt assistant coach and former point guard Brandin Knight (Seton Hall Prep). Gibbs has known Knight since childhood.

• Has known fellow Pitt players Travon Woodall and Nasir Robinson since the seventh grade. He played on an AAU team with Woodall.

• Named a Big East Academic All-Star in 2008-09 and is a candidate for Academic All-America honors.

Gary McGhee

• Junior from Anderson, Ind. who became interested in Pitt while visiting family in the Pittsburgh area.

• Father Gary McGhee competed in track & field at Indiana (1981-82).

• Cousin Aaron McGhee started at power forward and helped lead Oklahoma to the NCAA Final Four in 2002.

• Nickname is "Big G.''

• Spent his official visit to Pitt with former Panthers and current Chicago Bulls center Aaron Gray.

• Majors in communications.

Dwight Miller

• Has only played competitive basketball for five years. Redshirted the 2008-09 campaign at Pitt, his first on campus.

• Is the second player to play at Pitt from the Bahamas. Doyle Hudson (2005-07) was the first.

• Carries an old ragged FIBA basketball around campus because he says: "you never know when you'll find a game or an open basket.''

• Guardian, guide and father figure is Frank Rutherford, the first Bahamas native to win an Olympic medal (1992 bronze medal in the triple jump). Rutherford operates the Frank Rutherford Elite Athletic Development Foundation (FREAD), an organization which develops and assists Bahamian student-athletes in their quest to obtain an education in the United States.

Some of FREAD's success stories include Baltimore Ravens and former Washington State wide receiver Devard Darling, the late Florida State defensive tackle Devaughn Darling, USC forward Jeremy Barr and Miami (Fla.) offensive lineman Ian Symonette.

• In high school, trained over the summer with former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon and considers him his mentor.

• Pitt discovered Miller at an AAU event in 2007. Miller burst onto the recruiting scene at the ReebokU Camp, earning the camp's unsung player award.

• Played baseball as a youngster.

Lamar Patterson

• Played his senior year of high school at St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey for head coach Danny Hurley. Helped guide St. Benedict's to a No. 7 final ranking and berth in the first-ever ESPN Rise National High School Tournament.

• Younger brother of Perry Patterson, who played quarterback at Syracuse from 2004-07 and was a Second Team All-State honoree at Lancaster McCaskey High School. The Patterson brothers are two of only four players in McCaskey history to earn All-State honors.

• Played his first three seasons at Lancaster McCaskey High School where he was an All-State selection.

• Older brother Lorne Creighton starred at McCaskey and played collegiately at Kuntztown University.

• Favorite basketball player is Magic Johnson.

• Committed to Pitt after the Panthers' win over Duke at Madison Square Garden in December, 2007.

J.J. Richardson

• Underrated player who was discovered by Pitt who had several stellar summer performances prior to his final high school season.

• Grew up in Troy, Ohio, located right outside Dayton, before moving to Houston, Texas following his freshman year of high school.

• Played in the same AAU program as Pitt teammate Dwight Miller.

Nick Rivers

• Junior walk-on who earned a roster spot in August, 2009. The previous two seasons, he served as a student manager.

• Performs a dance routine, a blend of hip-hop and break dancing in the team huddle prior to home games. The team discovered his dancing talent in the locker room and encouraged him to perform the routine before games.

• Father Angelo Rivers played basketball at UC-Davis (1982-86) and was inducted into the UC-Davis Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

• Best job he ever held was a baseball umpire.

• Happiest and most gratifying moment in sports was seeing himself on ESPN.

• Majoring in economics.

Nasir Robinson

• Nickname is "Nas'' and "The Warrior.''

• The name Nasir is Arabic for "helper'' or "success and victory.''

• As a high school junior, played in the state championship game against DeJuan Blair's Schenley team. Blair's team won the game, but Robinson bounced back to guide his Chester team to the 2008 state title as a senior with a 33-1 overall record. His team earned the nation's No. 3 ranking by USA Today.

• Played high school basketball at Chester H.S. Other Chester alumns include Orlando Magic standout Jameer Nelson and Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan.

• Has known fellow Pitt players Ashton Gibbs and Travon Woodall since the seventh grade.

Dante Taylor

• Became the fifth Pitt player in school history to earn McDonald's All-America team honors joining Charles Smith (1984), Jerome Lane (1985), Bobby Martin (1987) and Brian Shorter (1987).

• Won the McDonald's All-American Skills Competition, where he completed a full-court dribbling and shooting course in 37 seconds. Also scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in the McDonald's All-America game in Miami on April 1, 2009.

• Honored by his hometown of Greenburgh, N.Y. as being a "native son'' during halftime of the Frankie Williams All-Star game in June, 2009.

• Played high school basketball at National Christian Academy, the same school that produced Patrick Ewing, Jr., Kevin Durant and Deron Washington.

• Family sent him to National Christian Academy hoping that he would turn his life around and improve his grades. When he arrived at NCA, he stood 6-feet-5 inches tall and weighed 230 pounds. Since then, he has grown four inches and maintained his weight.

• Developed and improved over his four years at NCA. With hard work, claims he went from a "raw, chubby kid to a McDonald's All-American.''

• Earned honor roll academic status two times as a high school senior.

• Consensus top-30 national recruit.

• Invited to tryout for the USA Basketball Under-19 Team this past summer in Colorado Springs, Colo.

• Has several tattoos including one that says "RIP Grandma'' for his mother's father, who died before he was born. Another one, on his left arm, has a basketball with a ribbon around it and the words "Respect My Hustle.'' Others says "Blessed Baller,'' and "Fear None, Trust Few.''

Bradley Wanamaker

• Prior to his freshman season at Pitt, played on a USA Junior All-Star team that traveled to Europe with Pitt teammate DeJuan Blair.

• Has a twin brother Brian, who played on his high school and AAU teams. Brian played collegiately in 2007-08 at NCAA Division I Central Connecticut State. After a year at Lon Morris Junior College, he is currently playing at Texas Wesleyan.

• Invited to compete for a roster spot on the USA Basketball Under-19 World Championship team during the summer of 2007.

• Pitt graduate Mike Cook played in his AAU program, Positive Image.

• Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadephia Daily News Player of the Year in 2007.

• Majors in communications.

Travon Woodall

• Played a starring role in the documentary reality movie The Street Stops Here, a movie about Bob Hurley and the St. Anthony basketball program.

• Played his high school ball for head coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony's High School, the nation's No. 1 ranked team. St. Anthony's finished a perfect 32-0 was named national champions by USA Today last year.

• Introduced to basketball by his cousin Khalief Woodall, who was tragically killed at age 11.

• Teammates call him a "born leader.''

• Has known fellow Pitt players Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson since the seventh grade. He played on an AAU team with Gibbs.

• Best friends on other college teams include Jiovanni Fontan (Fordham), Mike Rosario (Rutgers), Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas), Alberto Estwick (Fordham) and A.J. Rogers (Saint Joseph's). All six played at St. Anthony's.

• Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y. but resides in Paterson, N.J.

Talib Zanna

• Originally from Kaduna, Nigeria. Moved to the United States in 2006.

• His father, a successful businessman in Nigeria, passed away not long after he committed to Pitt.

• Early in his childhood, he played soccer but following a growth spurt and at the urging of his brother, he switched to basketball. Began playing basketball at age 10. Early-on, he had a goal of traveling to the United States to play basketball.

• Discovered by American high school coaches at a big man camp in Lagos, Nigeria.

• Ran up and down mountains in Nigeria to help increase his strength and speed.

• Devout Muslim who can speak four different languages. He could speak English before arriving in the United States.

• Played high school basketball at Bishop McNamara High School (Md.).

• His father, who never saw him play competitively, served as his role model and inspiration. After he broke his ankle during his first year in the U.S., his father told him to keep working toward his goals. He plays the game thinking of his father.

• Has five siblings. His dream is for them to see him play someday in the United States.

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