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Celtics sign Martinsburg native Pittsnogle

July 27, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Kevin Pittsnogle has a habit of doing things in a big way.

At 6-foot-11, it seems natural for the Martinsburg native.

On Wednesday, Pittsnogle announced that he has signed a free-agent contract to play for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.

The announcement came before about 35 well-wishers - and live television and radio coverage - at Martinsburg High School.

"I really don't have much to say," Pittsnogle said. "I'm not much for speeches. I just want to thank all my coaches who helped me along the way and I wanted to thank you all."

The 2001 Martinsburg graduate helped rejuvenate the West Virginia University program with trips to the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

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Pittsnogle, 21, signed what is called "a standard NBA free-agent contract, which is a one-year deal with a second-year option." The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Pittsnogle will be in Boston today for his physical and a meeting with the Celtics front office.

"This is a good opportunity," said Dan Tobin, Pittsnogle's agent. "It's a good opportunity and we are happy. Now, we just have to take care of basketball and all the contracts will take care of themselves."

Pittsnogle and WVU teammate Mike Gansey were passed over during the NBA's two-round draft last month. Tobin said he had been talking to every team before the draft, but as many as nine teams expressed interest in Pittsnogle.

Pittsnogle had options to play overseas but decided to play in NBA summer leagues.

"I wanted to play near home," Pittsnogle said. "I wanted to see what could happen. Europe will always be there."

Pittsnogle played for the world champion Miami Heat in the Orlando summer league. He also played for Dallas and Utah, and caught the eye of Boston general manager Danny Ainge.

"He saw me play a couple of games during the season and saw how I played in the summer league," Pittsnogle said. "(After the summer league), they called me the next day. Ainge called, but he talked to my agent. I only talked to him once."

Pittsnogle said the NBA style of play is much more open than the one he played at WVU, but that can only help him.

"I've watched NBA games and the summer league, and I feel like I fit in well there," Pittsnogle said. "The 3-point line is farther (from the basket), but that doesn't make a difference to me."

Pittsnogle finished his WVU career with 1,708 points, sixth on the school's all-time list. He made 253 3-point shots and finished second in school history in 3-point shooting (41.1 percent).

He was named to the All-Big East first team and the John Wooden All-American team, and received Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition this season.

"I always felt I could get here, but it took work," he said. "I knew I could get there, but I'm not there yet. There is still a lot of work to do."

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