Isaiah Epps came to Pitt highly-touted, and when he signed in 2010, he was expected to be the team's point guard of the future. He was such a big-time recruit that the Panthers' coaches apparently told him he could start as a freshman.
Heck, not even told him he could start ... but would, according to the guard.
Now, instead of being a key fixture for the team's future, he's transferring out of the program. The official word is that the transfer is for family reasons, but if you've watched Pitt this season, it's easy to think that playing time also may have had a little to do with it.
Epps got off to a slow start and never really found his footing. As I pointed out at the time, he didn't participate in the Greentree Summer League prior to coming to Pitt as a freshman -- something that could have significantly aided his development. From there, instead of getting a head start, he ended up taking a redshirt. That, of course, isn't the sole reason he didn't pan out and is transferring, but getting some early experience could have helped.
Epps' transfer isn't all that unexpected. Pitt has been actively seeking at least one more recruit for their 2012 class and the program is already at its limit for scholarship players. If someone else comes in, somebody had to leave, and Epps was a candidate. No other evidence was necessary when he had even been passed up on the depth chart in favor of little-used senior walk-on Nick Rivers late this season. Epps never displayed the promise that caused him to even at one time state that his goal was to be a one-and-done player and head to the NBA after his freshman year.
Here's the thing, though. While Epps hadn't looked all that great thus far, he was still only a redshirt freshman. Expectations were higher and because of that, he didn't make the progress fans wanted in the short time he'd been in the program. But he's still a very young player and will improve. Whether or not he could get better enough to jump into Pitt's guard rotation isn't known, but he showed flashes in high school of being an elite player and could eventually get there.
Where's Epps headed? It's really anybody's guess, but other schools that reportedly offered him a scholarship during his initial recruitment were Maryland, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and St. Joe's. Still, playing at a smaller school might not be out of the question. Epps clearly wants to get onto the court and while his chance to do that can still happen at a program in a major conference such as the ACC, he might have a better shot at doing it for a mid-major.
For more on the Epps transfer and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill.