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Does Pitt Have Any Future NBA Players On Its Roster?

Do Ashton Gibbs, Gilbert Brown, or Gary McGhee have a shot at playing in the NBA? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Do Ashton Gibbs, Gilbert Brown, or Gary McGhee have a shot at playing in the NBA? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Pitt is one of the nation's best teams year in and year out, but the school has seen little in the way of NBA prospects. That changed a bit two years ago when DeJuan Blair and Sam Young both were taken in the second round of the NBA Draft, but overall, Pitt has not churned out many pros despite its success over the past decade.

So what about this season? Does this year's Pitt team have any future NBA players?

Let's disregard any true or redshirt freshmen. It's completely premature to determine if any of them have sufficient skills. J.J. Moore and Talib Zanna have shown some flashes this season, but their games still need a lot of work.

Looking at most of the sophomores, it's again too early to tell. Travon Woodall has improved this season, but still needs work, and J.J. Richardson hasn't shown much to date. Dante Taylor is the only one who now looks like an NBA candidate. He was Pitt's first McDonald's All-American in two decades, and while he disappointed in his freshman season, a quick look around the league at other uber-recruits such as Syracuse's Fab Melo or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes shows that even the most elite prospects can struggle. Taylor has improved this season and is significantly more active on the offensive end. I think it's safe to say that he has a shot if he continues to get better. He has the quickness and, at 6-foot-9, the size to be an NBA power forward.

In the junior class, while Nasir Robinson is a beast in college, he's way undersized to play power forward in the NBA. Ashton Gibbs should get a look, but he's a bit undersized at his position as well. And as much as the sharpshooter label is bestowed upon Gibbs (heck, I've done it myself), he's not on an elite level in that area. His nearly 45 percent percentage from 3-point range is nice, but that number barely puts him in the top 100 out of Division I players. There are gaggles of guys who can shoot at that range, and Gibbs will need to show that he can regularly hit threes from NBA distances. Gibbs' 42 percent overall field goal percentage also needs some work, and he hasn't topped that mark since he's been at Pitt. Seeing that his field goal percentage is lower than his 3-point percentage tells me he's able to knock down open looks, but might have trouble getting to the basket. Gibbs has gotten better off the dribble and in creating his own shots, but he still has work to do to get to the next level.

That brings us to the seniors. I don't know what it is, but Brad Wanamaker has Europe written all over him. He does so much on the court, but I'm just not convinced he's athletic enough to be a shooting guard in the NBA. At 6-foot-4, he'd be a decent-sized two guard, but I have a hard time believing he's quick enough to cover other shooting guards in the NBA.

Gary McGhee is what he is. He's a 6-foot-10 center who plays pretty good defense and can finish around the basket, but that's about it. He doesn't have much away from the basket offensively or defensively, and I don't think he'll end up in the NBA. If he were a couple of inches taller, he might seem intriguing as a seven-footer who plays pretty good defense, but I think he's on the outside looking in when it comes to big men reaching the NBA. I wouldn't be too surprised to see him end up in a camp as an undrafted free agent, but that might be as close as he gets.

Pitt's most intriguing NBA prospect is senior Gilbert Brown. Brown, always known for his athleticism, has developed an outside shot to go along with it. He's not only shooting pretty well (46 percent from the field), he's hitting three pointers (40 percent). For a small forward, those are decent numbers, and at 6-foot-6, he has the size to be a productive NBA small forward. Gil also seems to be playing pretty good defense this year and has all the tools to make it. Can you imagine the highlight film he'd be able to put together? Thunderous dunks, leaps out of the gym, incredible blocked shots, and three-pointers? Brown will get some looks to be sure. He might not be drafted, but he should at least get into a camp where he can open some eyes.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.