Big Lead Sports Bar

9/30/2010

Pitt Lands Khem Birch, the Nation's #1 Power Forward



It's been a tough couple of weeks for fans of the Pitt Panthers. But today they can feel a little better about one fact: their hyper-competitive basketball program just landed the #1 power forward in the Class of 2012.

6'8", 180-pound Khem Birch, ranked fourth overall and first at his position in the country, just committed to Jamie Dixon, joining New Zealand C Steven Adams as the second commitment for 2012.  Birch, from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, is the second five-star recruit in Pitt history; current sophomore Dante Taylor was the first. 

Birch picked Pitt over offers from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Ohio State, Providence, Texas, St. John's, and West Virginia. He was recruited by Pitt assistant Pat Skerry. 

Birch is an off the charts athlete that can charge the game on the defensive end of the floor with his ability to block shots and rebound. His is a big time clear path finisher and when his offense catches up to his defense is game goes to next level. Birch has great upside and has drawn comparisons to former Cincinnati and NBA star Kenyon Martin.
Birch definitely has some growing to do, as that lanky frame needs to fill out. And this offensive game needs some polishing. But the kid's certainly got time for that to happen, and it looks like Pitt (and a lot of other high-end programs) are more than content to wait.

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26 comments:

rrr said...

Hyper competitive? Isn't that the same kind of talk that left everyone disappointed with the football team?

Pitt basketball is good, but let's not confuse it for Duke or North Carolina. The Pitt media hype machine has got to stop or people are never going to be happy with the success it achieves.

BURGH08 said...

Wrong.

This is the type of player Jaime Dixon hasn't been able to recruit in the past. This is the type of player that has bypassed Pitt for North Carolina or Syracuse.

That doesn't guarantee Pitt goes to the Final Four, and even if they didn't get him, the expectations are already in place to want the program to progress to the level of a Duke or NC.

I appreciate your concern for the disappointment of Pitt fans though. We know enough about it without you safeguarding us.

rrr said...

Are you the Pitt fan spokesman?

BURGH08 said...

Are you a member of the John Birch Society?

rrr said...

No, no I am not.

JW said...

Wow, John Birch Society reference. We have a winner.

Dominic Errico said...

I'm not going to pretend to know a ton about basketball as it's not one of my favorite sports.

I have been following Pitt basketball casually for a few years now and like Burgh08 said, this is the type of player they have not had much success in signing in the past.

I'm actually curious to see who else Pitt can land for their class of 2012 now.

And if you want to say you can't compare Pitt to North Carolina or Duke...doesn't Pitt have one of the best winning percentages in Division I basketball over the past 5 years?

From an article on www.examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/pitt-panthers-in-pittsburgh/cbs-sports-com-names-pitt-as-top-5-combo-football-basketball-program)

"Over the last nine seasons (2001-10), Pitt's .790 winning percentage (245-65) ranks among the nation's top-5 best winning percentages during that span. The Panthers have won five Big East championships, advanced to NCAA Elite Eight (2009) and NCAA Sweet Sixteen play five times and ascended to the nation's No. 1 ranking in 2009."

The ONLY thing that separates Pitt from a few other schools is the lack of a national championship, and they've come very close to getting over the edge, but they've always lacked the elite tier recruits of the other schools.....until now.

Pitt Basketball fans have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.

rrr said...

The only separates Pitt from being a championship program is...championships?

Man, you're really breaking new ground.

Dominic Errico said...

Way to try and dumb down what I said in my post. Read it again.

You said Pitt cannot compare to elite programs like Duke and North Carolina. I showed you how they do.

Pitt does all of this despite not getting the talent that those other programs get. If anything that makes them a better program for getting the most out of what they have.

Also I doubt we'll hear of any recruiting violations surrounding Jamie Dixon anytime soon. The guy is a class act all the way around.

rrr said...

Elite programs don't cite winning percenage, they cite championships. They cite Final Fours. Pitt doesn't have any.

It's a good program, but it still has yet to prove it's ready for prime time. Almost isn't good enough if you want to be the best.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I think he explained the reason why Pitt hasn't won a championship.


But don't let that stop you from trying to poo poo everything about this post.

BURGH08 said...

I can't be happy about today's news, because the 'hype machine' might cloud my expectations, setting me up for disappointment.

Of course, I couldn't have been happy in any way last year when that same hype machine picked Pitt to finish ninth in the conference and at best a bubble team to make the NCAA's when they ended up winning over 30 games.

I'm told 'success' from the football team is acceptable by going 7-5 and winning the Big East, yet the basketball team isn't a championship program for winning a much more competitive regular season championship ('04) or the conference tourney ('03, 08).

So I guess by your theory, the only thing that defines a championship program is if they win a National Title. I would like to see them advance more in the NCAA's, but does that take me back to Square 1 with me wanting to "confuse it with Duke or North Carolina"?

Wow. I'm really confused now.

BURGH08 said...

"Elite programs don't cite winning percenage, they cite championships. They cite Final Fours. Pitt doesn't have any."

So by your criteria, the following schools since 2000 are "Elite":

Wisconsin
Arizona
Maryland
Indiana
Louisville
George Mason
Memphis
Syracuse

Do you also believe they are elite despite having NCAA recruiting violations after? Or recruiting players that were 'one and done' en route to those appearances? You know, ones that were ranked in high school as one of the top five players in the country in numerous publications?

Just curious.

rrr said...

I wasn't really trying to "poo poo" the commitment, nor was I trying to infer that Pitt fans should be disappointed with the program because it hasn't won championships/gotten to Final Fours.

I just think some perspective would be nice, and words like "hyper competitive" are the kind of things that make Don and his 93.7 buddies difficult to take seriously.

Again, Pitt is a good program, but to be "hyper competitive" "elite" and "powerhouse" you've got to get it done when it counts. Implying that Pitt has reached the highest levels of the sport like Don did really lowers the bar, and diminishes the success Pitt has had.

rrr said...

And you know, people like to call out Penn State on this site for "not being what it was" aka an elite program on the level of an Alabama, Texas, Florida, etc.

Penn State has a top 10 winning percentage the last five years, four bowl wins, two conference titles, and a BCS win. If that's not elite, than neither is what Pitt has going on.

Don't be hypocrites.

Dominic Errico said...

Take what 93.7 The Fan takes with a grain of salt. Those people are paid to hype Pitt so you tune in.

rrr said...

Exactly. Let's not get carried away with Pitt's accomplishments under Howland/Dixon. They're something to be proud of, but not legendary.

BURGH08 said...

So basically you are upset Don wrote 'hyper competitive'.

I don't read 'elite' in his post, and I don't see 'legendary' or 'powerhouse' either.

As for "The Fan", I heard John Seibel say it "shakes me to the core" that Ben and Ray-Ray were texting...and that was five minutes I could stomach. With all due respect to Don, Pitt flaship or not, it has lousy talent, but heard plenty of deserved bashing.


Listen to Filliponi (sp) after the last two Pitt games. See if he is paid to hype Pitt. Or Joe Starkey, who wrote in the Trib that football hasn't advanced an inch under Wanny from Walt Harris, and said it time and time again when he could get Seibel to shut up. Is he paid by Pitt?

Seems like the only 'hyper' is the hyper sensitivity by a Penn State fan or two, which doesn't make sense since you don't care about Pitt.

Comical.

rrr said...

Swing and a miss. I'm an Ohio State fan.

Dominic Errico said...

I only mentioned the Fan and their hype because DUrrrrrrrr was going off about the hyper competitive comment.

Vinnie Richichi today was whining about how College players shouldn't have to deal with seeing bad articles about them on the front page of the newspaper. He was referring to Tino Sunseri.

I don't want to derail this thread about Pitt basketball by bashing some of the awful talent on The Fan.

Getting back to Pitt basketball, if you look at the state of this program before Ben Howland took over, and where it is now. I actually WOULD use legendary to describe the turnaround.

I only wish PSU took basketball this seriously.

Dominic Errico said...

I mentioned Ben Howland because he started the turnaround. I am well aware that Jamie Dixon is the current coach.

BURGH08 said...

Well, if you graduated there under the Katzenmoyer plan, that would explain the reading comprehension.

BURGH08 said...

Dom: I gotcha. Vinnie is horrible. He must have pictures of the guy that hired him or something.

He makes Thor Tolo seem like Bob Costas.

Dominic Errico said...

Maybe some of the castaways from 1250 ESPN can find work on The Fan now. Stan and Guy would be a huge upgrade over Vinnie and Cook.

Put Vinnie on at 2 AM when no one is listening.

Oh well, Best of luck to Pitt Basketball this year and in the future!

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

I just don't understand why Pitt fans are so obsessed with wanting their programs to be successful and get excited over anything.

Pitt fans have no right whatsoever to be fans in any way compared to the great big schools in the Big Tenwelve or any other super major powerhouse mega elite conference.

Pitt fans should just sit on their hands, do nothing, say nothing, and only cheer when either their opponent or one the Holy Elite Deity programs achieve something.

I don't really know who Pitt fans think they are in having a desire to have their programs progress or why they get excited over making the NCAA tournament every year and winning over 20 games just about each of the last 10 years as well.

Wins don't mean anything! Neither does winning % or winning in the BE tournament. We all know the only things that matter are what Big Tenwelve fans say matters, because they are the elitists who are authority figures on all things pertaining to collegiate athletics!

Dominic Errico said...

I'm a fan of PSU but I am standing up for Pitt basketball in this thread.