Connect with us

Pitt Basketball

Michalowski: Jeff Capel’s 2023 Recruiting Efforts Deserve More Attention



Pitt commits Carlton Carrington and Marlon Barnes with Jaland Lowe.

Jeff Capel has been a fantastic recruiter since arriving on Pitt’s campus in 2018.

The Panthers’ head coach has notably excelled in the transfer portal — bringing in stars such as Jamarius Burton, Nelly Cummings, Greg Elliott, Nike Sibande, Blake Hinson, Ish Leggett, and others over the past three-to-four years alone. However, in my opinion, Capel’s recent high school recruiting efforts deserve more attention than they have gotten.

Pitt’s 2023 recruiting board was once full of prospects from all over the country. Several prospects took official visits to Pitt during the cycle but did not commit. However, throughout the entire 2023 recruiting class’ high-school careers, Capel stayed the course and built steady, strong relationships with his guys. His choices. Although those players weren’t necessarily the highly touted recruits that other ACC programs target, those recruits were Capel’s. They were the guys that he envisioned leading the Pitt program with.

He clearly prioritized Bub Carrington from the start. Having a connection with Carrington’s father, who was a long-time AAU coach running the Baltimore Elite program, set the stage for his recruitment with Bub III at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. On June 15 heading into his junior season, Carrington was finally allowed to hear from college coaches directly, per NCAA rules. Once the clock struck midnight, Carrington’s phone rang. It was Pitt associate head coach Milan Brown, becoming the first coach to directly contact the rising junior. The Panthers had identified and scouted plenty of guards in the class at that point, but their course of action over the next two years proved that they knew that Carrington was one of their guys.

Capel’s staff again worked hard to recruit Jaland Lowe, a four-star prospect from the Houston, Texas area. Pitt recruiting a basketball player from Texas? Not your usual story. But I remember the first time I interviewed Lowe back when he was a rising senior and had just received his offer from Pitt. He was thrilled, and again, had a direct connection to Capel through his father.

“He called me, I was just chilling,” Lowe told Pittsburgh Sports Now on the night of his offer from Capel. “We talked about how he never expected to see this moment. He used to see me as a kid, when John Lucas and my dad [Marland Lowe]. He never thought he’d be recruiting me one day, so he just told me about that. I remember when he was at Duke and I was in middle school, and he let me visit the place at Duke. Now, he saw me playing AAU. He’s just proud of me. He said he liked the way I play, and he offered me.”

Jeff Capel ‘Never Expected’ to Offer Texas G Jaland Lowe, But Did on Tuesday

With Papa Amadou Kante, Pitt’s four-star forward prospect who is currently sitting out for the year due to a knee injury, Capel, again, stuck with him through his entire high-school career. Pitt was the first program to offer Kante, his prep coach Raphael Chillious told PSN. 

“That’s always something important in the relationship & recruiting process,” Chillious told PSN in 2022.

Marlon Barnes Jr. is the fourth member of the 2023 recruiting class and is currently taking a redshirt year to learn from Pitt’s crowded wing room. He committed to Pitt first out of all of this year’s freshman, pledging his verbal commitment in January of his junior season of high-school ball. Barnes had previously played with former Pitt forward John Hugley at Brush High School in Cleveland and had spent many days at Pitt throughout his prep career, watching practice, getting to know the coaches, and learning about the school.

Now that the Panthers are three games into the 2023-24 season, it’s clear to see that Pitt’s two freshmen guards — Carrington and Lowe — are going to play a major role right away in their first season of college ball. Carrington dropped a triple double in the first game of his career — the first one at Pitt since 1998. Pitt’s starting point guard, the Baltimore native, has had games of 18, 18, and 19 points, respectively, and is averaging seven assists per game as well. He looks like a five-star prospect. He’s already earned ACC Rookie of the Week over five stars from Carolina, Duke, and elsewhere. Lowe dropped a career-best 12 points in a win over Florida Gulf Coast on Monday night, stepping up and hitting five of his nine attempts — including two of his four three-point tries — off the bench. Lowe provided a spark for the Panthers when they desperately needed one and couldn’t quite pull away from the Eagles just yet.

“He’s a good player, man,” Capel said about Lowe. “He is. We were talking about the shots, I thought he made some heck of a passes off the ball screen. That’s what he’s been doing all the time. I thought he was maybe a little bit pressed because he couldn’t make a shot that he got away from it a little bit. I thought today, he was back more of who he has been. This guy that can play-make and can do some different things.”

Capel and his staff’s ability to identify talent has been elite — specifically with finding Carrington and Lowe years ago. His recruitment strategy has been well-detailed, as the recruits and their families seem to build tight relationships throughout the process and continue those once they are on campus. And now, throughout last season and in the first three games of this season, he has found on-court success with his guys.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 day ago

Thanks for the insightful, timely article, George. It’s going to be an exciting year for Pitt Basketball. Congrats to Jeff Capel and his staff for an outstanding job. Best wishes to all the players for a fun, successful season!

18 hours ago

With this in mind, who can be projected and expected in the next two years to be recruited?

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend