There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2016-17 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players. This week: Destiny Pitts, U of M freshman basketball player.
Destiny Pitts, a 5’-10” Detroit, Mich. native, says Minneapolis reminds her a lot of the Motor City. “This campus reminds me a lot like home. At other schools I visited there was nothing else to it. I knew I would have opportunities [in the Twin Cities] after school. The opportunities within the city, the Fortune 500 companies, for example — that’s big.”
Also leading her to sign with the Gophers last fall was the absence of overwhelming egos in the coaches and players she found here, unlike those she found on other recruiting visits, the guard-forward added. Nor did it hurt that U of M Associate Head Coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins also hails from Detroit.
“That helps a lot,” giggled Pitts before returning to a serious interviewing tone. “What I like most about the area is that I can go to the campus, interact, and do things with more [campus] clubs and organizations.”
We asked Pitts about the typical adjustment of a first-year college player after a stellar prep career — she rated 19th in the nation at her position, four-time all-state player, 2017 Michigan Class B Player of the Year and All-State Dream Team member, with two state championships and a runner-up finish at Detroit Country Day, the same school where Chris Webber graduated.
“I am trying to get better each day,” responded Pitts, adding that her new teammates have helped her as well. “The more I learn… I am trying to absorb as much as I can.” She wants to be more consistent and “not take a play off,” she stressed.
But Pitts has shown she can be a leader as well. “When I first got here, I eased in to feel the surface. But we all are willing to learn from each other.”
“She’s gritty and a competitor,” Dawkins said of Pitts on her Motown qualities. “She’s a winner and is not afraid of anything at any time.
“You know as do I that in the Big Ten you have to compete, you have to be physical and be ready to play each and every game,” Dawkins continued. “Obviously there will be a transition for her coming from the high school level to the college level. [With] the intangibles that she’s got, her transition will be minimal. She will have an impact early.”
Although she’s about a month away from conference play, Pitts’ first collegiate game last Saturday in the Gophers’ season opener against Lehigh was impactful — a 12-point, five rebound, two assists and a steal effort in 22 minutes off the bench. “I felt comfortable with my shot,” she told me in the post-game media conference.
Pitts hopes to go back to her hometown after she graduates and start and run her own business, which explains her plans to study business at the university. She’s “not really sure” what type of business she envisions owning and operating someday, however, this is an understandable uncertainty at this point in her career.
Another jersey retired
Sylvia Fowles joined her college teammate and current Minnesota Lynx teammate Seimone Augustus on Sunday when LSU retired her college jersey number 34, next to Augustus’ 33. The 2017 WNBA MVP is the 12th school athlete or coach to have her/his jersey retired, including Shaquille O’Neal and Pete Maravich.
Along with her on-court prowess, Fowles founded and runs the Sylvia Fowles Family Fund that supports youth and families in Baton Rouge and her hometown Miami.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.