PITTSBURGH (AP)—Most major college basketball players are recruited by multiple schools. Chase Adams landed at Pitt after recruiting the Panthers.
When Centenary dropped from NCAA Division I to Division III, Adams went looking for a program that fit his skills.
Last season’s Summit League defensive player of the year wanted to play on a team that valued defense. He also sought to move up to a higher level, but not have to sit the bench. He also wanted a team that needed an experienced guard—now.
Whenever he went down his checklist, Pitt landed on top.
“I did my research, I contacted Pittsburgh and sent stuff out to a couple of schools and I was able to make this transition,” said Adams, who doesn’t have to sit out a season because of his former school’s downgrade. “This is the best situation I could ever want.”
Some players might be intimidated at moving up from what was the nation’s smallest Division I program to a school that was ranked No. 1 for a time last season. Adams is certain he can make the transition, and in a hurry.
He must, since he is a senior and this will be his only Big East season.
Curiously, what he is trying to achieve at Pitt, which has about 33,000 students, is similar to what he was trying to get done at Centenary, which had fewer than 900 students.
There, he sought to get noticed on a team that gets little national attention. At Pitt, he’s trying to help a team that was gutted by graduation not get overwhelmed in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences.
Pitt lost its top three players—NBA second-round picks DeJuan Blair and Sam Young and point guard Levance Fields—plus starting forward Tyrell Biggs. The Panthers also will be without their lone returning starter, injured guard Jermaine Dixon, plus forward Gilbert Brown, who is academically ineligible until late next month, when the season starts Friday against Wofford.
Pitt is starting over, much like Adams is doing in his career.
“It’s a major step,” said Adams, who is from Baltimore. “We were the smallest D-I school in the nation and there you’re fighting for respect. We’re going to be fighting for respect this year because people are going to be counting us out. This is the big-time and the big level.”
Adams isn’t big—he’s 5-10—but he’s shown coach Jamie Dixon during practice he can be a lockdown defender much like Jermaine Dixon, one of the Big East’s top defensive players last season.
Adams also has surprised Pitt with his outside shooting. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range last season, and could help Pitt fill what seems to be a yearly need for a reliable long-range shooter.
“I’m going to bring a lot of intensity, a lot of patience on the offensive end—and I shoot pretty well,” Adams said. “Competitiveness, that’s the main thing.”
Jamie Dixon welcomes that.
Once Jermaine Dixon’s broken right foot heals, Adams will join Dixon, Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker and redshirt freshman Travon Woodall in a crowded backcourt. Adams doesn’t plan on sitting, not with so much to do in so little time.
“This is it for me,” Adams said. “This is my shot.”