2021-22 Pittsburgh men's basketball preview

Pittsburgh Panthers

2020-21 record: 10-12, 6-10 in the ACC

Head coach: Jeff Capel

Tenure at Pittsburgh: 4th season

Career coaching record: 215-158

Home court: Petersen Events Center

Starters: G Femi Odukale, G Ithiel Horton, F Nike Sibande, F Daniel Oladapo, F Mouhamadou Gueye

Bench: G Jamarius Burton, G/F William Jeffress, F Nate Santos, F Chris Payton, F Noah Collier, F John Hugley, C Max Amadasun

Overview: Pittsburgh ended last season 12th in the ACC, and this season isn't projected to be much better with the ACC preseason poll predicting the Panthers to finish 14th. They lost several key players, including scoring leader Justin Champagnie, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Toronto Raptors, as well as Au’diese Toney and Xavier Johnson, who both entered the transfer portal, going to Arkansas and Indiana, respectively. The team they left behind consists of the same players from last year’s roster plus freshmen Chris Payton and Nate Santos, as well as transfers Jamarius Burton, Daniel Olapado and Mouhamadou Gueye. 

The most recognizable of these names is Gueye, who averaged 9.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game at Stony Brook last season, earning him American East Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Standing at 6-foot-9, Gueye clocks in as one of the three tallest players on the team and should anchor the Panthers' defense.

Pittsburgh especially shined on the boards last season, boasting the second-best rebounding offense and sixth-best rebounding defense in the ACC. If the Panthers can continue that success and dominate possession, they could be in for a surprise season.

Team ceiling: Pittsburgh did see some improvement last season, jumping from last in the conference in field goal percentage to 10th. Better offensive play doesn't necessarily mean ACC contention, but it could indicate that Capel's program will have a stronger foundation in the years to come.

Team floor: Pittsburgh is in for a tough campaign if Gueye’s America East stats prove incomparable to ACC-level play. Returners Femi Odukale, Nike Sibande and Ithiel Horton also headline the starting lineup, but the Panthers need Gueye’s stature and defensive ability to prevent a repeat of last year’s struggles.


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