After enrolling at Iona in January, former First Love Christian Academy’s Samson George couldn’t even put on a Gaels uniform or get accustomed to the New Rochelle, N.Y., campus before leaving for good.
Five months after moving into Iona, the 6-7, 220-pound forward was released from his scholarship when school officials couldn’t wait for the NCAA to clear George’s amateurism situation, which raised concern for his eligibility.
It didn’t take much longer for the NCAA to resolve the situation and for the Nigerian-born big man to find another home, signing a letter of intent to play for the University of Pittsburgh Monday.
In his two seasons at First Love, a Christian school that plays a nationwide schedule, George averaged 15 points and nearly 12 rebounds per game.
He had more than 20 Division I offers from schools, including Oregon State, Central Connecticut, Duquesne, Monmouth and Rutgers, before committing to Iona during his senior season in the fall of 2016 because of its fast-pace style of play.
George began playing AAU with the New York Rens, also playing at two, high-school basketball powerhouses in New Jersey – St. Anthony’s and St. Patrick’s – before attending First Love.
Following a 16-17 overall record – 4-14 in the Atlantic Coast Conference under first-year head coach Kevin Stallings – Pitt missed out on a NCAA Tournament bid.
Stallings and Pitt also lost several returning players who chose to transfer, most notably starting guard Cam Johnson’s decision to play for Roy Williams at North Carolina. The Panthers also lost fan favorite Rozelle Nix to South Alabama.
If there is ever an opportunity to get playing time as a freshman, George will have it.
Having to replace the four other starters from last year’s team – Michael Young, Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter and Chris Jones – who exhausted their eligibility, the Panthers’ current roster for 2017 consists of three seniors, a junior college transfer and seven incoming freshmen.
One of those returning seniors, and only returning forward, is Hampton High School graduate Ryan Luther. He started two games last season and averaged 5.7 points per game, however, was sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot for a portion of the season.
By Luke Campbell