It’s been 40 days since the Portland Pilots 2013-2014 season ended. The Pilots stumbled down the stretch losing their final five games leaving a foul taste in the mouths of Pilot Nation. The end of the season came abruptly and fans were left trying to remember the high that had come after wins over Gonzaga and BYU just a few weeks before. The skid to end the season was a heartbreaking way for the seniors to go out, and it was especially difficult to see Ryan Nicholas leave on such a sour note.
But as I said, that was 40 days ago, and today is the resurrection following the basketball lent that Portland has endured. Today is the start to the spring signing period and optimism and excitement are overtaking the loneliness and frustration that has filled the past 40 days. Today is a day of new beginnings, of new chapters, of new focus. Today is the day we start counting down the roughly 200 days until the 2014-2015 season begins. And all of that starts with the welcoming in the 2014 recruiting class.
Three of the four scholarship spots have previously been announced with Jason Todd of Mill Creek, WA and Gabe Taylor from Beaverton, OR signing their NLI’s during the early signing period, and most recently D’Marques Tyson giving a verbal commitment. Today, it was announced that the class will be rounded out by 7 foot German center Philipp Hartwich.
Not much is known about the foreigner but a quick Google search will tell you that he has been playing for the NBBL U19 and the Senior Men’s team in the Regionaliga for Rheinstars Koeln. I’m not sure what all that means but judging by his stats in the NBBL U19 league (10.1 pts on 63.7% shooting, 8.7 rpg, 3.5 blocks) he seems like an effective post scorer with a knack for blocking shots. It sounds like his skill set is a compromise of current Pilot Centers Thomas van der Mars and Riley Barker. But at this point there really isn’t enough information to say that for sure.
Looking at the class as a whole, it’s easy to see that Coach Reveno and his staff were targeting depth and versatility in this class. Unlike last year where Portland had to fill immediate needs in the PG position, as well as the need to add shooting and depth in the PF position, the staff this year could focus on building for the future.
Portland searched out and found contributors for four different positions, each who bring different skills and all are solid building blocks for the future. They may not be looked to be impact contributors right away as the Pilots return 4 of 5 starters and 8 athletes who averaged more than 10 minutes/game from last season, 2 of those starters, and 6 of those athletes will be seniors next season. With all that being said this is how I see next season rotation playing out:
C-van der Mars
Carr, Sharp, Todd, Taylor, Barker
Zubizarreta, Tyson, and Hartwich
Fine Print: These are early predictions and I haven’t seen any of the incoming players other than YouTube mix tapes. A sure fire way for the incoming freshman to earn more playing time is by proving that they can play defense at the Division I level. A tough defender will always find a way into a game.
But back to today. Today I have stopped moping around, I’ve picked myself up, looked out the window and there is a bright sunrise on the horizon. Today, just like every day, is a great day to be a Pilot.
For up to date news and thoughts on the Portland Pilots, please follow David on Twitter @davidvthompson