Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel hopes blending three transfers with three returning double-digit scorers produces something the Panthers haven’t had in seven years: a winning season.
Capel, who opens his fifth season at Pitt by hosting UT Martin on Monday, turned to the transfer portal to bolster a team that is coming off its third straight season of winning just six Atlantic Coast Conference games. The Panthers finished 11-21 overall last year.
Guard Nelly Cummings arrived from Colgate where he averaged 14.7 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game last year. Forward Blake Hinson sat out last season at Iowa State due to an undisclosed, non-COVID-19 medical condition after beginning his career at Ole Miss, where he averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds two years ago.
Guard Greg Elliott averaged seven points, two rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in his fourth season at Marquette last year.
“They’ve been through a lot,” Capel said of the transfers. “They’ve been through adversity. They’ve had success. We want them to bring all of those experiences to our program and help us be at our best.”
Capel, who has gone 51-69 at Pitt, is hoping the trio meshes will with the Panthers’ three returning starters who all averaged in double-figures — forward John Hughley IV (14.8 points per game), guard Jamarius Burton (12.4 ppg) and guard Femi Odukale (10.8 ppg).
Meanwhile, UT Martin features Parker Stewart, who is one of college basketball’s most uplifting stories entering the season. Stewart returns to the Skyhawks after leaving the team when his father and former UT Martin men’s basketball coach, Anthony Stewart, died of a heart attack on Nov. 15, 2020.
Martin sat out the 2020-21 season to grieve before transferring to Indiana, where he averaged 6.2 points per game and made a team-high 53 3-pointers last season. Now, he’s returned to the Skyhawks.
“This place means a lot to me, I moved down here my freshman year of high school, and everyone took our family with open arms,” Stewart told The Portal Report. “My dad was given his dream job as a Division I head coach here, so this place will always be special to me.”
Stewart actually began his college career at Pitt in the 2017-18 season, where he averaged 9.1 points per-game for a Panthers team coached by Kevin Stallings that went 0-18 in ACC play.
UT Martin hasn’t posted a winning season since 2016-2017 — the first season on the bench for Stewart’s late father.
–Field Level Media