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Jamie Dixon Comments On Khem Birch's Departure

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon confirmed the departure of highly-touted freshman forward Khem Birch on Friday night according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo.

"Khem has decided to leave the team for personal reasons," Dixon said in a statement. "We thank Khem for his contribution to our program over the last semester and wish him great success in the future."

The 6-foot-9 former five-star recruit and McDonald's All-American out of Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburgh, Mass. signed with the Panthers last September, turning down scholarship offers from eight schools including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and West Virginia. 

Rivals.com ranked him No. 4 at the power forward position and No. 9 overall for the recruiting class of 2011. He had started the last six games for Dixon's squad before his transfer and had played in all 10 of Pitt's games this season, averaging 4.4 points and 5.0 rebounds.

His final game with the Panthers came last Saturday when he scored five points and grabbed a single rebound in 15 minutes during Pitt's 74-68 win against Oklahoma State.

Birch will have to sit out a calender year of games but would be eligible to play at whatever school he transfers to starting next December if Dixon releases Birch from his scholarship.

For all the latest on Khem Birch's departure from Pitt, stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh.

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