Sunday, August 3, 2008
Posted by Rob Jones
Rick Pitino is still a titan in the coaching ranks and he is proving that through his recruiting. It is hard to find a blue chip recruit around that doesn't at least mention the Cards when asked what school they are interested in. Coach was bitten by the lack of an age limit in the NBA for a few years which led to Pitino losing at least 5 possible All-Americans in 3 years. Sebastian Telfair, Amir Johnson, Donte Jones, James Lang and maybe even Lebron James (maybe wishful thinking) could have donned the red and black and led Pitino's Cards to the promise land. Now with the one year rule, Pitino will at least get a season with these players who before would just jump staright to the league. All Pitino has to worry about now is getting the kids qualified and ready to compete in the beast that is the Big East conference.
Pitino's young coaching staff seems to have invigorated the 56 year old. They surely help close the generation gap Pitino has with the young players who are much different now than they were ten years ago. Steve Masiello has the Northeast connection and is a player's coach. Walter McCarty can tell stories of a 10 year NBA career. By all accounts, Richard Pitino is a straight clone of his father. All are under the age of 35. All the recruits I talk to have given glowing reviews to all three assistants individually and as a group. From the looks of it, they are building a stable of solid recruits, all filling roles needed to achieve the ultimate goal, a national title.
Since the summer AAU season is completed here is a rundown of all the players I could find that Louisville is going after and/or are interested in joining the Cards. Rivals rank is in the parentheses. Today 2009. Tomorrow 2010 & 2011.
PG Peyton Siva 6-0 180 Franklin HS Seattle (31)
Siva continued to show off his PG skills by leading Seattle Rotary to a fine showing across the country. Siva showed off his freakish leaping ability by ripping off some nasty dunks and displaying some marksmanship from three point range. He is an energetic, pedal to the metal guard who plays with a swagger that Louisville fans will fall in love with. Cons include defense and distribution. I interviewed him right before his commitment (2nd article down). He joined John Renshaw on 93.9fm the Ticket last week. The interview can be heard HERE.
PF Rakeem Buckles 6-8 200 Miami Monsignor Pace (39)
First off, Buckles will have one of the coolest names in Louisville history. Besides that, the lanky, athletic PF has shot up the rankings like a rocket and ended the summer putting up ridiculous numbers in late summer AAU games like 36 and 14 a day after traveling from Vegas to Orlando. Here's are Jody Demling's Buckles-related articles. Rakeem can bang inside and has developed a nice dribble game. He needs to put on some weight but he has the frame (and the coach) to do it. Put 20 pounds on this guy and he could be extremely dangerous.
SG Mike Marra 6-4 190 Northfield Mt. Hermon MA (NR)
Marra will come into Louisville and try to fill the shoes of Jerry Smith and Reginald Delk from beyond the arch. Marra can flat out shoot the basketball along with the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. Marra will fill a specific role, outside shooting. He also has the capability to get to the rim. I have been in contact with Marra and we should be doing an interview with him within the next week.
'09 Targets - Most Wanted
SG Dominic Cheek 6-5 175 St. Anthony's NY (11)
Kansas and Villanova seem to be high on Cheek's list right now and Louisville is just now getting into the mix, offering the scoring machine a scholly within the last six weeks. Asst. Steve Masiello's NY connection could work wonders. Cheek is my personal choice right now assuming that Samuels, Jennings, and Caracter all return for the Cards. Cheek represented the USA in the U-18 World Championships this summer. He has an assassin touch from three and may be the best ball handler left in the class. Here's a video of him at work...
C Bawa Muniru 7-0 255 Madison AL (NR)
This is Pitino's backup plan in case any of the three bigs returning in 09 decide to leave. Muniru was profiled by Jody Demling in the C-J and is compared to a young Hakeem Olajuwon. U of L has a history of getting burned by African imports in AL (see Ousumane Cisse & Ben Eze) and English is Bawa'a SIXTH language.
SG Aaron Dotson 6-4 180 Seattle Rainer Beach (NR)
Dotson (pictured upper left) would add to the Seattle pipeline started by T-Will and continued by Siva. It is rumored he is the main target for Pitino and his commit could lead to a domino effect with AAU teammates Josh Smith and Tony Wroten Jr. Dotson is solid as a rock on both ends of the floor and was also featured in a C-J piece recently. He comes from a Rainer Beach program that has produced pros Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson.
Still on the Radar
SF Noel Johnson 6-7 180 Fayette Co HS GA (36)
A few weeks ago it looked as if Johnson was the most likely to finish off the recruiting class however Louisville has quit recruiting Johnson after a few tough outings in a row. Johnson is best known around Louisville for torching the King of the Bluegrass last winter. For some reason, according to Demling, Pitino has soured on Johnson who will most likely end up at USC or Georgia Tech. I think he would fill a need at the wing in 09 and create matchup problems. Pitino seems to think otherwise. Louisville has offered Johnson according to Rivals.
SF Christian Watford 6-7 215 Birmingham Shades Valley (40)
Like Johnson, Louisville has seemed to back off of Watford (upper right) after offering him an early scholarship, which might bode well for arch-nemesis Tom Crean who is in desperate need of the strong, athletic wing at IU. Both Watford and Johnson could still be very much in the mix with Pitino posturing with other options just in case both decide to go elsewhere. What happens behind closed doors at the Yum! Center is unknown. Aside from IU, Watford is also considering UK, Alabama, Missouri and Texas and wants to make a college decision by November
PF Stephan Van Treese 6-9 225 Indianapolis Lawrence North (NR)
Van Treese joins a talented front line at Greg Oden's alma mater, with 4 players in the Rivals 100 including UK commit Dominique Ferguson. His recruitment by Pitino has flew under the radar all summer and he still lists Louisville in his top 5 with IU, UCLA, Ohio St. and Kansas. Van Treese's teammate, Jordan Hulls, has committed to IU yet there is no indication which direction the big guy will go. He too holds an open offer from the Cards.
Wishlist (Not Likely to Come but Looking)
PF Renardo Sidney 6-10 230 Lakewood Artesia HS (4)
If Pitino pulls Sidney away from UCLA or Memphis it will be on par with stealing Samardo Samuels from North Carolina. This guy is a freak and a monster who would fit in perfect in the Big East's bruising style of play. He is already being projected as the #1 pick in the 2010 draft.
SG Lance Stephenson 6-5 195 Brooklyn Lincoln HS (7)
The next big thing from Lincoln (Telfair, Marbury) might bring more trouble than good with all the hoopla surrounding his recruitment. He would be too good not to pass up on. He was interested early but I think Pitino saw the headache that Tyreke Evans gave him (all for nothing) and decided to move his attention elsewhere. Stephenson has a documentary about his JUNIOR season in high school. Seems a little much.
G John Wall 6-4 184 Word of God Christian Academy NC (1)
Louisville was in the mix early then we got a Wagner/Houston scheme involved when Wall's AAU coach's brother signed on as an assistant at Baylor. The coach WAS in line to work basketball operations at OK St., Wall's presumed favorite. Wall could commit at any time to either school so it doesn't look like we're going to get him. He has been compared to Derrick Rose and it's believed that the team that gets him will be an automatic contender. Just as long as he doesn't land in Lexington
at 12:46 AM