Buy Tickets Shop Now Donate Today Auction

Sept. 26, 2013


The following are personality profiles on each of the 14 Pitt basketball players:

Jamel Artis

•Late signee who committed to Pitt in April, 2013.

•Baltimore native who follows in the footsteps of Pitt teammates Durand Johnson and Aron Nwankwo and former Pitt players Jermaine Dixon and Chase Adams.

•Played at the same prep school, Notre Dame Academy (Mass.) as former Pitt players Steven Adams and Carl Krauser.

•Roommates with fellow Pitt freshman Michael Young at St. Benedict’s Prep (2010-11).

•Played wide receiver on the football team at Vermont Academy.

Durand Johnson

•Redshirted his first year at Pitt (2011-12).

•Fourth Baltimore native to play at Pitt in the last three years following Jermaine Dixon, Chase Adams and Aron Nwankwo.

Nickname is “Pee-wee.”

Chris Jones

•April signee who blossomed during his senior season at Teaneck H.S.

•Honor roll student in high school.

•Played AAU basketball in Pitt assistant coach Brandin Knight’s former program, the New Jersey Playaz.

•Chose Pitt for its family atmosphere and “great” relationship with the coaching staff.

Joshua Ko

•Freshman walk-on from Hawaii.

•First-ever Hawaiian player to earn a men’s basketball roster spot at Pitt.

•Earned Hawaii’s Gatorade state player of the year honors after leading his high school team to back-to-back state titles at two different levels.

•Scored 13 points in the game’s final 1:25 to give his high school team a state championship final win.

•Nickname is “K-O.”

•High school coach Alika Smith, is a friend of Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.

•Outstanding student who graduated with a 3.7 grade point average in high school.

Mike Lecak

•Sophomore walk-on who was added to the roster in August 2012.

•Transferred to Pitt from Wheeling Jesuit University where he competed in basketball as a freshman.

•Lists his hometown as Pittsburgh, Pa., but attended high school in Phoenix, Ariz.

•Mother played basketball at Robert Morris. His father played basketball at Penn State-McKeesport.

•Has plans to coach someday.

Josh Newkirk

•First player to sign with Pitt from Atlantic Coast Conference region (Raleigh, N.C.).

•First player to commit to Pitt on twitter.

•Attended the same high school, Word of God Academy in Raleigh, N.C. as NBA player John Wall and collegians C.J. Leslie and Quincy Miller.

•Regarded by many as the nation’s most “athletic” guards in his class.

•Claims to watch the Sebastian Telfair documentary “Through the Fire” before every game because he says it “fires him up.”

Aron Nwankwo

Walk-on who is attending Pitt on a full academic scholarship.

•2010 graduate of Baltimore City H.S. with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

•Played in the Pitt JamFest AAU tournament at the Petersen Events Center on April 24, 2010. Head Coach Jamie Dixon offered him a walk-on spot following the event.

•Follows in the footsteps of two other Pitt players from Baltimore: Jermaine Dixon and Chase Adams.

Chose Pitt for its pre-Med program with the opportunity to play on its top college basketball program. Said it was a “dream come true” and that he would gain the “best of both worlds” while receiving an academic scholarship offer to Pitt and then having an opportunity to play on the basketball team.

•Also played lacrosse in high school, where he led City H.S. to three straight city titles.

Lamar Patterson

•Played his senior year of high school at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey for coach Danny Hurley, who is now the head coach at Rhode Island. Helped guide St. Benedict’s to a No. 7 final national ranking and berth in the first-ever ESPN Rise National High School Tournament.

•Younger brother of Perry Patterson, who played quarterback at Syracuse from 2004-07 and was a Second Team All-State honoree at Lancaster McCaskey High School. The Patterson brothers are two of only four players in McCaskey history to earn All-State honors in basketball.

•Played his first three seasons at Lancaster McCaskey High School where he was an All-State selection.

•Older brother Lorne Creighton also starred in basketball at McCaskey and played collegiately at Kutztown University.

•Favorite all-time basketball player is Magic Johnson and had the opportunity to meet him when Pitt played in the CBE Classic in Kansas City in 2009.

•Committed to Pitt after the Panthers’ win over Duke at Madison Square Garden in December 2007.

•Nickname is “LP”.

Derrick Randall

•Transfer who played his first two seasons at Rutgers (2011-13).

•Native of the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.

•Can perform somersaults and body flips.

•Sister Adrian played college basketball at both Marshall and Georgia Southwestern.

•Nickname is “D-Mac.”

•Favorite pro sports team is the Los Angeles Lakers and favorite player is Dwight Howard.

•Played at same prep school, South Kent Prep, as former Pitt player Gilbert Brown (2007-11).

James Robinson

•Concluded his high school career as the all-time winningest player in DeMatha Catholic history with 120 career wins. He lost only one home game in his four-year high school career.

•Pitt Basketball’s first-ever two-time international gold medal winner.

•Earned second gold medal this summer as a member of the USA’s FIBA World Championship team in July, 2013. Team USA finished 9-0 at the event held in Prague, Czech Republic.

•Played with the USA Basketball Under-18 squad that captured the Gold Medal at the FIBA Americas Championships in Sao Sebastiao, Brazil in June 2012. Led the team in assist:turnover ratio (12:2) and averaged 4.4 points and 15.6 minutes per game.

•Played for the USA East Squad in the Nike Global Challenge, played in April in Portland, Ore.

•Described as a “floor general,” “student of the game” and consistent winner.

•Nicknamed “Mr. Consistent” by his high school coach.

•Pitt recruited him since the ninth grade.

•In July 2010, led his AAU team, Team Takeover to the Nike Peach Jam national title.

•Top-60 consensus national recruit.

Joseph Uchebo

•Junior college transfer from Chipola Junior College (Fla.) where he sat out his sophomore season due to a knee injury.

•Enugu, Nigeria native, one of two Nigerians on the Pitt roster (Talib Zanna).

•Native of the Igbo tribe in Southeastern Nigeria.

•Played soccer growing up. His brother plays soccer in Germany.

•Was discovered while playing soccer and encouraged to attend a basketball camp put on by Ejike Ugboaja, a Nigerian native who was selected in the 2006 NBA Draft second round by Cleveland.

•Played on same high school team with Josh Newkirk (Word of God).

Cameron Wright

•Father passed away prior to Pitt’s 2012-13 season opener against Mount St. Mary’s. His father died of brain cancer, but Wright played in the season opener anyway, saying that his “father would have wanted it that way.” He also put the letters FMF “For My Father” on his shoes.

•High school honor student who earned a 3.7-plus grade point average.

•Committed to Pitt on Sunday, August 9, 2009 after visiting the campus, saying it was an “unbelievable” visit and that he “found his home.” He was impressed with Pitt’s facilities, but most impressed with the people and coaching staff.

•His best friend, high school teammate and backcourt partner Derek Jackson plays basketball at Central Michigan.

•Invited to tryout for the USA Basketball Under-19 team in Colorado Springs during the summer of 2011.

Michael Young

•Pittsburgh area native who grew up watching and following Pitt. As a kid, he always wanted to attend Pitt. Grew up in McKeesport, Pa., located 12 miles from the Steel City.

•Follows in the footsteps of San Antonio Spurs center DeJuan Blair (2007-09) as Pittsburgh natives to play for Pitt.

•Lost his father, Michael Young in September, 2010.

•Attended St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) where he guided the Gray Bees to the National High School Invitational runner-up finish with a 32-2 overall record. St. Benedict’s finished the year ranked No. 2 nationally.

•Consensus top-70 ranked recruit.

•Roommates with fellow Pitt freshman Jamel Artis at St. Benedict’s Prep (2010-11).

•Chose Pitt because it was the “perfect fit” along with its loyalty and honesty in the recruiting process. It will also give him the opportunity to play in front of friends and family near his hometown.

Talib Zanna

•Originally from Kaduna, Nigeria. Moved to the United States in 2006.

•His father, a successful businessman in Nigeria, passed away not long after he committed to Pitt. He has a picture of his father in his locker and touches it before he hits the court each day.

•Early in his childhood, he played soccer. Following a growth spurt and at the urging of his brother, he switched to basketball. Began playing basketball at age 10. Early-on, he had a goal of traveling to the United States to play basketball.

•Discovered by American high school coaches at a big man camp in Lagos, Nigeria, which was organized by his friend, mentor and former Georgetown player Godwin Owinje.

•Ran up and down mountains in Nigeria to help increase his strength and speed.

•Devout Muslim who can speak four different languages. He could speak English before arriving in the United States.

•Played high school basketball at Bishop McNamara High School (Md.).

•His father, who never saw him play competitively, serves as his role model and inspiration. After he broke his ankle during his first year in the U.S., his father told him to keep working toward his goals. He plays the game thinking of his father and keeps a necklace in his locker in memory of him.

2013-14 Pitt Basketball Personality Profiles

Get Social


  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago