A nine-word tweet from Trey Zeigler on Friday evening greatly increased Pittsburgh's chances of rebounding quickly from a rare down season last year.
Wrote Zeigler, "Just found out I will be eligible this season!"
Zeigler, a Central Michigan transfer who averaged 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore, learned Friday that the NCAA will grant him a waiver that will allow him to avoid sitting out the customary full year. Pittsburgh sought the waiver because Zeigler only left Central Michigan after his father, Chippewas coach Ernie Zeigler, was fired in March after a disappointing 11-21 season.
The NCAA typically grants waivers to athletes who transfer because of financial hardship, injury or illness to themselves or a family member, but Zeigler had historical precedent on his side. A Miami spokesman confirmed last month that infielder Cade Kreuter gained eligibility right away in 2011 after transferring from USC to the Hurricanes when the Trojans fired his father Chad following the 2010 baseball season.
The addition of Zeigler gives Pittsburgh an ideal replacement for senior shooting guard Ashton Gibbs. Zeigler, a former top 30 recruit, can play alongside starting point guard Tray Woodall and allow sophomores-to-be John Johnson and Cameron Wright to remain in a reserve role, giving the Panthers one of the Big East's deepest backcourts.
With a healthy Woodall, an eligible Zeigler and the addition of top 10 recruit Steven Adams to bolster the frontcourt, Pittsburgh should have a far stronger roster than it did much of last season. It may not be enough for the Panthers to out-duel Louisville and Syracuse for the Big East crown, but it definitely should give them a chance to contend for a return to the Top 25 and the NCAA tournament.