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Pitts is What’s Right About NCAA Hoops

August 2nd, 2014 News 15 Comments

Ivy Hunt-Ashram

It seems like every article on college basketball is about the next great freshman, with endless fawning over potential NBA stardom. That’s what is normal now.

But it wasn’t that long ago that even the best freshmen weren’t expected to crack the rotation in their first year. Now, athletes decide where they play based largely on who will give them the most immediate opportunity.

College basketball, which used to be about the development of skills and people, is now the painfully required stepping stone to a professional career. It’s a paradigm shift that we are firmly entrenched in. Somewhere along the way NCAA basketball became a glorified NBA D-League, with the thin veil of a self-righteous stance on the purity of the game propping up the entire institution. It’s a problem that runs deep in the minds of athletes as well as the suits that make the important decisions.

That’s why I appreciate a player like Elliott Pitts.

As a top 100 recruit, he could have gone to another west coast school and played a much larger role. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to show your talent, and he could have drawn some significant attention to himself on a second tier Pac-12 team like Cal, Oregon, or Washington.

But Pitts, unlike so many college basketball players today, was considering something else when he made his college decision. He came to Arizona to develop, not to get his share of the spotlight.

And Wildcat fans should be glad he did.

After Brandon Ashley went down with a season ending foot injury last year, Arizona scrambled to fill the void. One of the most understated contributions in this regard was from Pitts, who was thrust into bench action as Sean Miller adjusted on the fly.

In the 21 games prior to and including Ashley’s injury, Pitts averaged less than two minutes per game. From that point on, he logged double digit minutes in nine of the next ten games leading into the postseason. Arizona went 8-2 over that stretch.

It’s not about what Pitts did on the court, though he did show the ability to make timely three point shots. The value that Pitts brought was his attitude and willingness to do whatever the team needed. He was essentially thrown into the fire, and he gave 100% for every minute he was on the court.

And when the rotation tightened up in tournament play, Pitts brought the exact same attitude and work ethic.

A lot of players would be upset to have their new role taken away from them. But a lot of players don’t have the team-oriented mindset that Pitts does.

Looking ahead to next season, there isn’t much opportunity for Pitts to play outside of blowouts. On another loaded roster stacked with NBA talent, minutes are going to be hard to come by for just about all the reserves.

But on a team with that much talent, you still need guys like Pitts. Pitts is the type of player whose work ethic can be infectious. When a team has a bench player that works as hard as he does for such sparse playing time, that can be inspiring to the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.

And despite all of this, don’t count out Pitts’ talent. He’s 6-5, can shoot with range, and is a high IQ player with a great attitude. Though he will likely play a small on court role during his first two years, as an upperclassman Pitts could develop into a significant contributor.

It’s refreshing to follow a college player whose career isn’t about the immediate payout and rapid ascension through the game’s ranks. Pitts hearkens back to a different time in college basketball, when the game was about developing skills and personal maturity, and he manages to maintain that while at a powerhouse, top-5 caliber program like Arizona.

That’s a special quality, and it’s worth writing about just as much as the parade of one-and-done’s that are brief blips on the college radar.

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15 Responses to “Pitts is What’s Right About NCAA Hoops”

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  1. The Stairmaster

    August 2, 2014

    Perfect write up regarding Pitts. Nothing like having a secret gem on our bench!

  2. john t.

    August 2, 2014

    On the money! I’ll be surprised if Elliot doesn’t play an important role in this coming season. He might easily average 7 points and 3 rebounds in limited time. He’s the type of player that is often around the ball and opportunistic. I hope he has a breakout year — 6′-5″ guards can be quite valuable.

  3. krislees

    August 2, 2014

    Pitts willingness to do whatever is asked of him and not complain is a great virtue. Kid can ball when given the chance and he knows to wait and not rush it. Looking forward to big things from EP this year or in the coming years.

  4. Jeff

    August 2, 2014

    I’m eager to see how Pitts has developed over the offseason. He has a lot of potential.

  5. Wiid

    August 2, 2014

    love everything this kid brings to the table, great write up!

  6. dtread7

    August 2, 2014

    Great article and well written. You’re right about Pitts giving 100% every time he was on the court… He’s a great 3 point shooter but what stood out to me last year were his (I can think of two) clutch offensive rebounds.

  7. titan4wildcats

    August 2, 2014

    Great article and dead on. Pitts is going to be a great player. This last season he played some pretty good defense. He shot respectably from the arc and also fought for quite a few rebounds. If he does the typical freshman to sophomore improvement, then I can see him as a great bench player this season if not more. From what we’ve already heard he’s been working out and working hard this offseason. It will be something to watch him play his junior and hopefully senior years here as well.

  8. fred

    August 2, 2014

    For several years I’ve really enjoyed visiting the site and catching up on all the great news and developmernts surrounding UA basketball. But now it seems that to continue enjoying this opportunity we’re being forced to sign up to twitter just to access these stories and updates. I’m all about choice, and now it feels as if that’s being taken away. Please give us a choice to sign up for twitter or not without locking us out on continuing developments. I’d really hate to lose the enjoyment of staying within the AZ family.

    • admin

      August 2, 2014


      No one is forcing you to sign up on Twitter. We are merely branching the PGU product out to the widest possible audience. I can assure you, all pertinent information that we release via Twitter will also be released on Twitter is merely another tool we utilize to not only release the best Arizona Basketball recruiting information in the world, but also to share it with as many people as possible.

      Thank you for your support, and on behalf of the staff – we hope you continue to enjoy reading PGU.

      – Ryno

  9. Buzzard

    August 3, 2014

    Very well written sir. You are absolutely correct. Pitts is a throwback to a time when college basketball was indeed the most exciting sport to watch.

  10. Dennis murphy

    August 3, 2014

    Fred, I too had that concern so thanks for your question and thanks to ryno for the the clarification. Just not wanting to join the twitter revolution.

  11. steve green

    August 5, 2014


  12. LWash

    August 6, 2014

    I watched Elliot pits play last year. If you watch this young man play he has the physical ability of an outstanding basketball player. His body mechanics are so smooth and natural. I’m looking forward to his development because he has the physical ability and mental ability to be an outstanding basketball player. We will see him on the court and we will see this young man evolve right before us.

  13. victor

    August 8, 2014

    Great article! I do think you’re underestimating Pitts’ role on this year’s team, though. After a summer of working hard on his game and adding muscle, I think he’s likely to take people by surprise. Just consider the fact that he was playing with mono last year. That would have been enough for some guys to sit out the year. Yet, he was pretty productive. It makes you wonder: What can he do at full strength?

  14. mvpreed2

    August 17, 2014

    Pitts is the type of player that makes Arizona continue to be Arizona.
    Someone that is willing to come in and play within the system and wait until his number is called and then shines in the process.
    Pitts is eventually going to be the type of player that is going to be very good for us.
    I am hoping that this is next season but whenever that time is he is going to play a role in our success and I for one am going to be happy that he was one of the few that played the game right way and came out on top.

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