A brave new world in ACC recruiting

If you’re like everyone else, your mind is slow to warm up to the idea of conference realignment. I had an easier time with Chad Johnson’s transition to Ochocinco and subsequent decommitment back to Johnson than I do with saying Pittsburgh and ACC in the same sentence. Regardless, we all need to make the mental transition.

Point guard Josh Newkirk (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) grew up in the heart of ACC country. He committed to Pittsburgh on Wednesday and will play in the league in the fall of 2013. But would he be a Panther had they remained in the Big East?

“I don’t know,” Newkirk said. “That’s a tough question. I think so.”

Newkirk was set to visit Georgia Tech this weekend, but he woke up Wednesday and knew what he had to do. The day before, Panthers coach Jamie Dixon had been in Raleigh, shoring up a pitch he made last weekend in Pittsburgh.

Turns out, Dixon capitalized and tugged on Newkirk's heartstrings. There are four ACC campuses within an hour and a half of Newkirk’s southeast Raleigh residence. Translation: His family will see a lot of his games.

The pitch to Newkirk worked. Expect the Panthers to delve into their new recruiting region even more now that they’ve stolen a recruit from another ACC team in the south. Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse will be the ACC newbies, and Newkirk is the first pledge who can be directly tied to a new league member.

As for waking up Wednesday and knowing where he wanted to go, Newkirk was himself caught off guard.

“It was real," he said. "I woke up and I didn’t have any idea I was going to be doing this today. I saw coach (Quinton) Jackson, we talked and I felt like there was no need to wait. It’s a big relief.”