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New to the Zoo: Parker Stewart joins the 2017 Pitt class

Pitt lands an ex-Ole Miss recruit for next season.

Excited to announce I will be joining the Pittsburgh Panther family, play for Coach Stallings, and compete in best conference, the ACC ☝️ pic.twitter.com/CZhr0zkG45— Parker Stewart (@Parker2828) June 19, 2017

Pitt was able to land a much needed addition to their 2017 recruiting class yesterday, as they landed shooting guard Parker Stewart. He was a one-time Ole Miss signee, but asked for his release from his letter of intent earlier this month. He is able to join the team soon, and will be eligible to play next season.

Stewart is a 6’5” 185 pound shooting guard from Union City, Tennessee. His father, Anthony, is a division one head coach for Tennessee-Martin. Stewart is graded as a three-star by all four of the major recruiting services. In addition to Pitt, he received late interest from Georgetown and Iowa State. He held an impressive offer sheet initially with the likes of Wisconsin, Florida, and NC State and about a dozen more.

Stewart is known for one thing especially, and that’s outside shooting. He should walk into Pitt and be their top threat from the outside right away. Here is a look at his senior year at Union City.

Given the graduation of Jamel Artis and Cameron Johnson’s transfer, finding a quality outside shooter like this should help offset those losses somewhat. Landing a player like this this late overall is also impressive. It’s rare to add a good high school talent this late in the game, at this point transfers and junior college players seem to be the only additions available.

To help paint a better picture of Pitt’s ever-changing roster, I’ll give everyone a quick rundown. Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan are back as the seniors of the team. Joining the senior class is grad-transfer Monty Boykins from Lehigh. Jared Wilson-Frame is coming to Pitt with junior eligibility from junior-college. Malik Ellison is a transfer from St. John’s and will sit this upcoming season, and has two years to play after that. Beyond that, it will be six true freshmen; Parker Stewart, Marcus Carr, Kham Davis, Shamiel Stevenson, Peace Ilegomah, and Terrell Brown.

That leaves two open scholarships Pitt can use before this upcoming season. They can likely add an additional post player to help out the very thin frontcourt. Pitt’s roster is definitely imbalanced as they have six freshman and not many upperclassmen at the moment. Pitt will likely have 4, and as many as five spots to fill in the 2018 recruiting class. They are off to a pretty strong start there with four-star Bryce Golden committing to the program just days ago.

Pitt has not had a very positive offseason with a bevy of transfers, the controversial blocking of Cameron Johnson, and their fair share of recruiting misses. So to add a four-star 2018 player a few days ago, and to beat out Georgetown for a three-star player yesterday, this would rank up there with the better developments the program has had in recent memory.

Pitt baseball has three players selected in the 2017 MLB Draft

Last month, I mentioned that Pitt was unlikely to have any high picks selected in the MLB Draft. That draft was held last week and, well, that proved true as the Panthers had no picks in the top 15 rounds. A few Pitt players did eventually get taken, however.

First off the board was pitcher Josh Falk, who went to the Oakland A's in the 17th Round.  Another pitcher, Isaac Mattson, went to the Los Angeles Angels in Round 19. Finally, pitcher Josh Mitchell was scooped up in the 22nd Round by the Kansas City Royals.

No position players were taken, which wasn't terribly surprising. As I wrote last month, Pitt had only one .300 hitter this season, and that was freshman Alex Amos (who was not eligible to be drafted). No one else hit better than .281.

Even the starting pitchers taken didn't have great seasons. I thought Mattson could have been first off the board as he was solid as a reliever. He led the team in saves (4) and had a 2.87 ERA. Perhaps most importantly to scouts, he averaged better than a strikeout per inning.

Falk and Mitchell were less impressive. Falk was 3-7 with a 3.92 ERA and Mitchell was 1-5 with a 4.61 ERA. Mitchell also allowed a team-high ten home runs. Teams are looking less at records and more at 'stuff', though, so it's not as simple as looking at even typically good indicators such as ERA. Records when playing on bad teams is even less useful.

So now the question is, will any of those guys be back to try to improve their draft stock? Falk was a senior, so he was gone for sure. According to Royals Review, Mitchell has already signed. Finally, while I hadn't seen if Mattson had signed or not, his Twitter account indicates he is a 'former' Pitt pitcher, so sounds as if he's gone.

Losing Mattson out of the bullpen hurts and even though Falk and Mitchell didn't have great seasons, it still means the Panthers will need to replace 2/3 of its main rotation. But overall, Pitt isn't losing the type of production they lost last year when five players were drafted. Three of those players were taken in the first 12 rounds, including a first-rounder and a fourth-rounder.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Son of Charleston church massacre victim drafted by Cubs

Nearly two years after his mother was killed by white supremacist in a South Carolina church, Chris Singleton realized his dream of playing professional baseball when the outfielder was drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

>> Read more trending news 

Singleton, a right-handed center fielder at Charleston Southern University, was chosen by the defending World Series champions with the final pick of the 19th round Wednesday (No. 585 overall). 

Singleton’s mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was one of nine people killed by Dylann Roof on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study class at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, WLTX reported. Coleman-Singleton, 45, had taught her son at Goose Creek High School and also was a pastor.

Roof was convicted of 33 federal hate crime charges and acknowledged he was hoping to incite a race war.

Despite the tragedy, Singleton continued his college baseball career. He batted .276 with four home runs for Charleston Southern this season.

“It’s a lot of God and a little bit of me right now,” Singleton told the Post and Courier of Charleston. “It’s timing itself up perfectly in my eyes, so it’s really a blessing.”

Cavaliers’ star LeBron James embraces the bald look

LeBron James, smarting after the Cleveland Cavaliers were beaten in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors, has decided to take on a new look.

>> Read more trending news 

King James, who has been compared to Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, took on MJ’s bald-headed look, showing off his shaved head on his Instagram account. James’ hairline has been receding for years, so he decided to take action, USA Today reported.

James is also back in the gym, hoping that his work ethic will pay off with the NBA title the Cavaliers were unable to defend this season.

Pitt Basketball Recruiting: Panthers land 2018 PF/C Bryce Golden

While we're still trying to sort out the 2017-18 roster, Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings added a key player for 2018. On Thursday night, the Panthers added 6'9" power forward/center Bryce Golden.

#H2P pic.twitter.com/YsbYtzIsoI — Bryce (@bryce_golden) June 16, 2017

Golden is a 247 four-star composite recruit out of Sharpsburg, Maryland and reportedly had offers from several quality programs, including Maryland, North Carolina State, Clemson, and Xavier. He just visited with Pitt earlier this week. ESPN has him as a four-star recruit while Rivals and Scout both peg him as a three-star player.

While Scout only gives him three stars, they also have him as a top 80 player for 2018, slotting him as the 79th best recruit overall back in their March rankings.

I haven't been able to find any solid stat averages on him but given everything that's gone down with the basketball program this year, this is a hard one not to like. Stallings hasn't endeared himself to fans that much after last year's disaster, but he is known for recruiting. And his 2018 class is off to a solid start with the addition of Golden.

Here's some of his work around the rim at the Peach Jam event.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Orlando City Soccer forward Cyle Larin charged with DUI

Orlando City Soccer Club forward Cyle Larin was arrested early Thursday in Orlando and charged with driving under the influence, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

>> Read more trending news

Investigators said a trooper spotted a white Cadillac shortly after 2:30 a.m. traveling the wrong way on the South Ivanhoe Boulevard ramp.

The vehicle merged onto North Orange Avenue and continued to travel in the wrong direction in the wrong lanes, so the trooper pulled over the driver, investigators said.

The driver stopped in the middle of the road, and an oncoming Mercedes stopped within feet of the vehicle, preventing a head-on collision, according to an arrest report.

The driver told the trooper he was unfamiliar with the area and wasn't from the area, the report said. Investigators said he later told the trooper he moved from Toronto, Canada, to Orlando about three years ago.

The trooper described the man's eyes as bloodshot and glossy and said that the vehicle smelled of alcohol, the report said.

The trooper asked the driver to pull into an adjacent parking lot, where he identified himself as Cyle Larin and a field sobriety test was performed, officials said.

Investigators said that Larin, whose speech was slurred and who had difficulty answering questions, told the trooper that he and his female passenger were coming back from Ono Nightclub in downtown Orlando, but he said he hadn't drunk any alcohol.

The report said Larin had difficulty following some of the trooper's instructions during the field sobriety test and kept changing his answer when asked how much he had to drink, the report said.

Larin told the trooper he had "two to three vodka Red Bulls," according to the report. He was arrested and taken to the Orange County Jail, where he blew a .179 and .182 during breathalyzer tests, troopers said. The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Florida is .08

Larin was booked into the Orange County Jail and is being held in lieu of $500 bond.

Pat Signal: Blake Zubovic commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a top local lineman

I'M COMING HOME #HOMETOWNHERO18 pic.twitter.com/JaIvYwfcE8— Big Z (@blake_zubovic66) June 14, 2017

Pitt’s June recruiting train kept on rolling this afternoon, as Blake Zubovic committed to the Panthers’ football program. Zubovic is listed as a 6’5” 310 pound offensive linemen. He is from nearby Belle Vernon High School in the Pittsburgh area.

The recruiting websites all consider Zubovic to be a three-star prospect. He is listed as the 14th best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania according to Rivals.com. He had additional offers from Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Michigan State, among 11 others.

Zubovic helped lead his Belle Vernon team to an 8-3 record in 2016. If the school sounds familiar, it also produced former Pitt Panther and current Arizona Cardinals’ lineman, Dorian Johnson. Here is a look at Zubovic’s junior season for the Leopards.

Zubovic becomes the ninth member of Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, and now the third player from the WPIAL area. He is also Pitt’s sixth commitment in the past two weeks. There still appears to be some momentum on Pitt’s recruiting train, and a few more prospects are on commitment watch for the time being.

Warriors deny reports that they unanimously declined White House visit

UPDATE June 13 at 3:30 p.m.: The Associated Press reported Tuesday that no decision has been made about the Golden State Warriors visit to the White House, according to a statement from the team.

"Today is all about celebrating our championship,” the statement said, according to CBS Sports. “We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions when and if necessary.”

Original story:

It didn’t take the Golden State Warriors long to decide to skip the traditional championship White House visit.

>> Read more trending news 

Less than 24 hours after winning the 2017 NBA Finals on Monday night, the Warriors unanimously voted to decline the White House ceremony honoring their Finals win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to several reports, including one by CNBC analyst Josh Brown.

The Warriors attended the White House ceremony to honor their 2015 NBA Finals title when former President Barack Obama was in the White House.

The news comes the day after Clemson visited the White House in honor of their National Championship win over Alabama in January.

The Warriors’ rejection of the White House’s invitation builds on the sentiment expressed by several New England Patriots who announced they would not attend the Trump White House ceremony in April. Notable Patriots, who missed the April ceremony were Tom Brady -- who said he would not attend for personal reasons -- Legarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett and Danny Amendola.

Thirty-four Patriots were present for the White House ceremony to honor their Super Bowl 51 win, which was a similar number of attendees to when the Patriots won in 2004 and 2005, according to Patriots spokesman Stacey James.

>> Related: Patriots respond to comparison photo showing team with Obama versus Trump

Photos: Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers to win NBA title

Kevin Durant scored 39 points, Stephen Curry added 34 and the Golden State Warriors won their second NBA championship in three seasons with a 129-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday night.

Pat Signal: Chase Brown commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a junior college offensive lineman

HAIL TO PITT pic.twitter.com/IoTmd8ifHG— Chase Brown (@chasebrown73) June 12, 2017

Pitt received some good news this afternoon, as Chase Brown committed to the Panthers’ football program. Chase Brown is a 6’6” 310 pound offensive tackle that plays for Lackawanna College in Scranton. He is a junior college transfer, and will have two years to play for Pitt starting next season.

Brown chose Pitt over offers from Virginia Tech, TCU, and Minnesota among others. He is not graded by the recruiting sites at the time, as rankings with junior college players always seem to take some time to get their official star ranking. I would speculate this is the equivalent of a three or borderline four-star type of player.

Brown initially started his college career at James Madison before taking the Junior College route. He is a native of Ashburn, Virginia and attended Briar Woods High School. Here is a better look at Brown as a player.

Pitt is also actively recruiting Lackawanna’s other offensive tackle, TJ Bradley. Perhaps landing Brown helps them with his recruitment. With Pitt potentially losing both tackles after this upcoming season, going the junior college route makes sense to help replenish the offensive line quickly.

As it has been noted a number of times, Pitt’s recruiting seems to pick up in June, and that’s the case once again. Brown is the fourth recruit to commit this month, and there are a few others on the horizon. Pitt may land 2-3 more recruits before the calendar switches over to July.

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