Justice Kithcart might still be playing basketball before family and friends at Hillside or Riverside, the Durham schools he attended as a freshman and sophomore.
But then he learned before his junior year of a chance to attend Virginia Episcopal School. He decided the boarding school in Lynchburg was an opportunity to enhance his chances for a college basketball scholarship, even though it meant leaving home the past two years with the exception of school breaks.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard signed in November to play for Pittsburgh, which means future homecomings will be while he plays for the ACC school.
Kitchcart celebrated his latest trip home with three 20-point games in the 44th edition of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational that was played over the holiday break at Broughton High.
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“I grew up in the Triangle and know this is a basketball hotbed,” Kithcart said. “I knew about the tournament and its rich tradition. It’s great to come home and have a chance to play in your hometown.”
Virginia Episcopal suffered an upset at the hands of Arlington Country Day in its first game, but the Bishops rebounded with two wins over Carlisle School of Martinsville, Va., and Robinson of Concord to place fifth overall in the eight-team, three-day tournament.
In the fifth-place game, Kithcart and Kevin Quinn, who also is from Durham, were hot from three-point range and left their names in the Holiday Invitational record book as the Bishops hit 13 three-point field goals. Kithcart scored 26 points with five three-pointers and Quinn 20 with six three-pointers. Kithcart also contributed nine assists for VES, a tournament high.
Ranked a 3-star prospect by Rivals when Pitt joined ACC rival Clemson in recruiting him, Kithcart visited the Pittsburgh campus and quickly committed to join the Panthers.
“I fell in love Pitt and the coaching staff on my visit,” Kithcart said. “I liked the history of the program and I liked how Coach (Jamie) Dixon has coached so many great point guards. I want to learn from him.”
Another selling point was the presence of assistant coach Brandin Knight, a Pitt All-American point guard in 2003 when the Panthers played in the Big East.
“He played in the Big East and won Big East tournament championship (2003),” Kithcart said. “I can learn from him. I can grow and hopefully get to the next level. I felt it was a good fit for me.”
Kithcart is known as a strong defender.
“Justice is a tough, pysical, strong guard who plays hard,” said Dixon in a Pitt news release on the Nov. 17 signing day. “He played point guard for probably the best team in the country last year in terms of AAU programs (Team Loaded, Virginia). He plays with great intensity while being very unselfish. He is a driver who can make it to the basket, as well as an attacker who gets to the foul line, and I like those things.”