Pitt lands highly touted recruit
The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball program signed Khem Birch (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec-Canada/Notre Dame Prep, Mass.) to a National Letter of Intent, Head Coach Jamie Dixon announced on Monday. Birch’s letter arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 17, the final day of the NCAA Division I fall men’s basketball signing period.
Birch joins four other student-athletes who signed a National Letter of Intent with Pitt last week including forward Jaylen Bond (Norristown, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh H.S.), center Malcolm Gilbert (Smyrna, Del./The Academy of the New Church, Pa.), forward Durand Johnson (Baltimore, Md./Brewster Academy, N.H.) and guard John Johnson (Philadelphia, Pa./Life Center Academy, N.J.).
With the signing, Pitt’s 2011 recruiting class was ranked No. 12 nationally by ESPN.com.
Birch, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward/center is considered one of the nation’s top shot blockers. A consensus top-10 recruit, Birch is currently attending Notre Dame Academy in Fitchburg, Mass. after transferring from Winchendon School (Mass). This summer, he guided the Under-18 Canadian Junior National Team to a bronze medal finish at the World Championships in San Antonio, Texas while averaging 5.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocked shots per game.
Birch rounds out a deep 2011 class for Pitt that is regarded as a top-20 class.
Joining Birch is 3-star recruits 6-foot-10 center Malcolm Gilbert (3-star recruit), 6-foot-7 shooting guard Duran Johnson (3-start recruit), shooting guard John Johnson (3-star recruit) and 4-star recruit 6-foot-7 wing forward Jaylen Bond.
Gibbs Named Big East Player of the Week
University of Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs was named the Big East Conference’s Basketball Player of the Week on Monday by the league office.
The honor, the first of the 2010-11 season, marked Gibbs’ second Big East Player of the Week award as he was Pitt’s last weekly recipient on January 4, 2010.
Through the Panthers’ first five games, Gibbs has averaged 19.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. He has scored 20 or more points in three of Pitt’s first five games while shooting 47.1 percent (16-34) from 3-point range.
Gibbs was named the 2K Sports Classic/Coaches vs. Cancer tournament Most Valuable Player on Nov. 19 after leading Pitt to the title with back-to-back wins over Maryland (79-70) and Texas (68-66) at Madison Square Garden. In the championship game win over Texas, Gibbs scored 24 points including, 19 in the second half, to give Pitt its 14th win in its last 19 games at Madison Square Garden.
Gibbs also scored 22 points vs. Rhode Island on Nov. 8 and finished with 24 points vs. Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 10.
Look Ahead: No. 5 Pitt (5-0) is back in action on Tuesday, Nov. 23 when it hosts Robert Morris at 7 p.m. The contest will be televised on ESPN Regional and broadcast locally on FSN Pittsburgh.