Jamel Artis was just 'waiting for the right time' to pick Pittsburgh

The Baltimore Sun

Jamel Artis’ affinity for Pittsburgh was never a secret. Ever since the Baltimore native’s recruitment began, the Panthers were “on top” of his list of potential college destinations.

As Artis moved through four schools in five years, the Pittsburgh coaching staff stayed persistent in its recruitment of the 6-foot-6, 230-pound wing.  

“They showed that they wanted me more than all the other schools,” Artis said Tuesday. “I was just waiting for the right time.”

The right time came last weekend, when Artis – who recently achieved a qualifying SAT score – pledged to the Panthers during his official visit. Artis picked Pittsburgh over Connecticut, La Salle and South Carolina, among others.

“They liked me a lot. They didn’t care how long it took,” Artis said. “They just wanted the right time, and the right time came. I passed all my tests. It came back.”

Artis spent his first two years of high school at Dunbar, but decided to transfer to St. Benedict’s in Newark, N.J., for his junior season to improve his academics and increase his exposure. As a senior, he moved on to Vermont Academy. But without a qualifying SAT score, Artis elected to do a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.

Crusaders coach Ryan Hurd was happy to add Artis – who averaged 16 points this season – to his roster.

“When you look at the history of kids and how they have done here, that ranks pretty high,” Hurd said of Artis’ scoring average. “The biggest question mark with people all along was how much he wanted it. He hands down showed that he’s somebody who wants to compete. You look at his skillset, for somebody of his size, it’s off the charts.”

Artis has been described by scouts over the years as a point forward, but Hurd thinks it does “a disservice” to the future Panther to put a label on him.

“We kind of made a hybrid spot for him,” Hurd said. “He defended everyone from the 3 to the 5. Offensively, I tell people he’s a pick-and-pop 3. It depends on what we needed. He had the opportunity to break someone down in isolation or take a guy into the post. He has a tremendous array of offensive moves.”

Off the court, Artis used his time at Notre Dame Prep to focus on SAT preparation with the school’s academic support staff. Hurd said Artis has “done well to get himself on track” academically.  

“Man, it’s just a blessing, you know? God wouldn’t have put me through nothing I couldn’t handle,” Artis said. “I just kept pushing myself [and finally] came through. Now it’s time to shine.”

Artis, who is considering a major in communications, is looking forward to earning “a good degree” from Pittsburgh and teaming up with other Maryland natives on the Panthers’ 2013-14 roster. James Robinson, a DeMatha graduate, is Pittsburgh’s starting point guard, while wing Durand Johnson (Lake Clifton) and forward Aron Nwankwo (City) will also vie for time in the Panthers’ rotation.

“[I just like Pittsburgh’s] style of play,” Artis said. “They’re physical. They play very hard. They get up and down, fast break. … I’d like to put my team past the Elite Eight, at least get to the Final Four. I just want to be on the map.”



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