Following in the footsteps of the pugnacious Carl Krauser would be no easy task—unless you're present-day Pittsburgh Panthers point guard Levance Fields.
The 5'10" senior holds the record for the school’s best assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.47 and posts a 52-12 record as Pitt's floor general in his three seasons.
Like a natural leader, Fields has quarterbacked and developed the Panther offense and elevated the play of several teammates.
One of those is Sam Young, the Big East Most Improved Player of the Year and the Big East Tournament MVP, who increased his scoring average from 7.2 in 2006-07 to 18.1 ppg 2007-08, the biggest ascent in the Big East Conference.
Then-freshman and Co-Big East Rookie of the Year DeJuan Blair also benefited from Field’s fluidity and chimed in 11.6 ppg and 9.1 rebounds, a near double-double.
Having instrumentally birthed two of the Big East's and the country’s best players might not be enough, so Fields also led the Panthers to their first Big East crown since 2003.
Fields finished second on the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game, to go along with 5.3 assists per game and 3.9 rebounds per game.
A punisher in the post, Fields uses his strength to stun defenders down low and to navigate Pitt's offense from the paint or create his own shot.
However, his game isn’t all muscle. Fields has mesmerizing ball-handling and graphical ball control, which allows the stout guard to dictate offensive tempo.
An inopportune broken foot in December against Dayton devoured a substantial portion of his season. Heroically, he managed to return after 12 games to propel Pitt onward towards the Big East Tournament, averaging 11.3 ppg, 5.5 apg, and four rpg in the four games and garnering All-Tournament honors.
The Panthers reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament before suffering a loss to No. 18 Michigan State, but Vance’s lion-hearted effort throughout the season surely isn’t forgotten, with hope circulating around campus for this season.
Fields, however, recently underwent a second procedure on his foot, causing him to miss the preseason.
Mobility is an essential part of any point guard’s way of life, and slow ones usually tend to perish and get devoured by the NCAA.
When healthy, my assessment of Levance is Baron Davis, a player with amazing strength to combat subpar ball-handling.
Pittsburgh opens its season at home Friday against Fairleigh Dickinson.