By Brian Pitts
Josh Pittman, Davie’s new varsity boys basketball coach, has an excellent coaching resume over seven seasons. Then there is his playing career. What a story it is.
From high school to college to the pro ranks, Pittman was an absolute beast as a 6-6 shooting guard.
After playing on the East Forsyth JV team as a rookie/second year, Pittman showed remarkable growth as a junior. In 1992-93, he averaged 18.8 points and six rebounds to lead East to an 18-8 record, including a run to the regional semifinals.
“It’s been a standout year for me to play on a team run mostly by seniors,” Pittman said.
As a 6-4 senior, he was simply one of the best players in the state, averaging 27 points, about seven rebounds and three steals. In the first round of the playoffs, East was ousted by a miracle shot. With East ahead by one in the dying seconds, an opponent pulled off a half-court heave. (“The guy hadn’t made a 3 the whole game,” he said.) Pittman was the Metro 4-A Conference Player of the Year and made an all-state honorable mention. .
Despite only playing in college for just two years, Pittman racked up 1,244 points and was inducted into the East Forsyth Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Coach (Donnie) Holt has been a great coach for me,” he said. “I started slow, then ended up with offers from Winthrop, Campbell, UNC-Asheville, High Point, Winston-Salem State and North Carolina A&T.”
Pittman picked UNC-Asheville, and all he did was become one of the most dynamic players in program history. But he had to bide his time as a 1994-95 rookie. His coach during his first two years in college was Randy Weil, who was previously an assistant to Dean Smith in North Carolina.
“My freshman year I had a coach from Carolina, so it was like the Carolina system where as a rookie you come in and buy your time,” he said.
Pittman showed tremendous promise as a sophomore, averaging 13.5 points and 4.0 rebounds.
“At one point, I was leading the nation in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage when I was averaging about 19 (points) per game,” he said. -he declares. “I was pulling crazy numbers. Then the seniors started leading a bit more and my average went down.
After that 1995-96 season, Weil left Asheville to take over at Middle Tennessee State. He was replaced by Eddie Biedenbach, who played at NC State from 1965 to 1968. His assistant was Monte Towe, who played guard for the Wolfpack team that won the 1974 national championship. , by the incomparable David Thompson. Due to the coaching change, Pittman considered a transfer. He’s glad he decided to stay in Asheville; after all, his last two years were the stuff of legends.
“A lot of schools were interested,” Pittman said. “I got to talk to David Thompson that summer (before my freshman year). He told me about Coach Biedenbach. He had watched a movie from when we were playing at NC State and he said : “I think Coach Biedenbach will be the perfect coach for you. You’d be smart to stay. I decided to stay and from there it all took off. It was a great time.
Pittman led the Big South with an average of 18.4, the sixth-highest average in program history. He added 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and earned Big South Player of the Year honors.
As a senior in 1997-98, Pittman averaged 18 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals and became the second Big South Conference player to be named player of the year twice. He was also the UNC-A Male Athlete of the Year as a junior and senior.
Pittman took the Bulldogs to 22 of 26 conference game wins in two years and won both titles on the season.
When Pittman left Asheville, he had a career-high 175 steals; currently fifth. He ranked fourth with 1,547 career points; currently 7th.
“It gave me the opportunity to be invited to the NBA pro camp,” he said. “I had a good performance and ended up finding an agent.”
Pittman was not selected in the 1998 NBA Draft, but he held his head high and kept working.
“I wasn’t completely upset; I was not broken,” he said. “I just embraced what God gave me. I knew I still had work to do. When I think back to me playing in college, I was a bit stiff and a bit caught off guard. I got better as I got older, I realized maybe I wasn’t good enough at that point when I got out of college to go to the NBA.
With the NBA out of reach, Pittman embarked on a professional career overseas. The first leg of a 17-year run was in Argentina. He ended up playing in seven countries, including Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy and Brazil.
He made 13 all-star teams. He was once the South American MVP. He was once a league MVP. He was capped in the first team in all leagues four times.
“I loved the game so much,” he said. “Those were good times. I mean I was the first American to be the All-Star Game MVP.
Pittman retired as a player in 2014. After taking a year off, he embarked on the next chapter of his life: teaching/coaching.
“Once I started playing in the professional leagues and had the opportunity to play against NBA players like (Manu) Ginobili, (Ruben) Wolkowyski and Pepe Sanchez in Argentina and then going to Italy and playing against other former American NBA players, I felt like, ‘Man, maybe if I had a second chance (in the NBA), this could have been part of my history,’” he said. “But I had the opportunity to have a professional career and I am extremely grateful. And if I could, I would do it again the same way.