Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heatherington Gets to Play with 'Big Boys'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heatherington Gets to Play with 'Big Boys'

Article excerpt

T.J. Heatherington often has wondered what it would be like to play basketball on the NCAA Division I level.

Despite a stellar career at Serra Catholic High School that included leading the Eagles to a PIAA Class A title in 2008, he never got that opportunity because he wasn't recruited by D-I schools.

So, Heatherington went to Point Point University and spent the past three seasons piling up some impressive numbers for the Pioneers. He led NAIA Division II in scoring last season with 24.5 points per game and was sixth in assists with a 6.2 average.

This summer he has come as close as he ever will to playing Division I basketball as a member of the PGT Trucking team that competes in the Pittsburgh Pro-Am Summer League at the Green Tree Complex.

His teammates include a quartet of players who will play a huge role for the Pitt Panthers this upcoming season -- 6-foot-5 Lamar Patterson, 6-5 Trey Zeigler, 7-0 Steve Adams and 6-3 James Robinson. All four are expected to be in Jamie Dixon's rotation and could be starters by the time the Big East Conference schedule rolls around in January.

Adams comes to Pitt with an impeccable resume and already is projected as being a high draft choice, possibly a lottery pick, in the NBA draft next June. Robinson is a highly touted 6-3 freshman point guard who recently returned from playing for Team USA's 18- under team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas tournament.

Surrounded by all of these high-profile players, Heatherington said he isn't intimidated or in awe although this is his debut in the league that is composed mostly of players from Division I Pitt, Duquesne, West Virginia, Robert Morris and West Virginia.

"But," added Heathrington, who grew up in McKeesport and whose family now resides in White Oak, "It's always been a dream of mine to play Division I. I've never played with players like this before. It's very exciting.

"Do I fit in? I hope so. I don't know how I will do [in league play] but I thought it was time to take the next step. …

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