Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pitino Needs Teague to Join Cards

Marquis Teague is only a junior in high school. Yet right now the 17 year old has Rick Pitino and the rest of the Cardinal Nation by the short-and-curlies in anticipation of his decision of what college he will attend. The point guard from Indianapolis Pike is a special talent - John Wall/Derrick Rose special - and has been thought to be a lock to show up on Louisville's campus in the fall of 2011. Two main elements factor into most people's assumption - Teague's father, Shawn, played for Coach Pitino at Boston University & his AAU coach, Shabaka Lands, was hired by Louisville as a special assistant prior to this season. By that, you would think Pitino has Teague hook, line, and sinker.

That could be, but is not necessarily the case.

Teague is a program changer. Many scouts and recruiting insiders say whoever gets him will become an instant Final Four contender. He has been compared to a more-athletic Chris Paul and Louisville has been in on him since Day 1. The only problem is, so has everyone else. If this sounds familiar, it is. All world PG DaJuan Wagner of New Jersey was the son of someone with a strong connection to the program - his father Milt who's number hangs in honor at Freedom Hall. After years of assuming he would become a Cardinal, John Calipari swooped in, hired Milt as an assistant coach and logically DaJuan followed. Fortunately for the Cards, DaJuan didn't turn out to be the impact player that he was thought to be. I wouldn't expect the same from Marquis.

Teague is the most important recruit of the Pitino era. Francisco Garcia & Terrence Williams took the program to great heights and will go down as all-time greats but Teague would mean more in the long run. If you add his services to already the already committed 2011 class - SG Wayne Blackshear, C Michael Chandler, SF Ryan Taylor & PF Zach Price - Louisville would have a 5-star class that rivals this year's Kentucky and other historically great classes. With that season's possible return of Samardo Samuels, Terrence Jennings (seniors) & Peyton Siva (junior) that makes one fierce 8-man rotation that would put Louisville as a preseason favorite to win the national title.

So what's holding him up? It could just be he wants to get the Jesus Shuttlesworth treatment at every visit. He's the number one player in his class and I can't really blame him for taking it all in - especially the women. Indiana and Kentucky are hot on his trail as well, so Pitino will have to prove he still has it against the nation's best recruiters.

Marquis Teague doesn't need Pitino and the Cards to make it to the next level, but Pitino and the Cards desperately need him to come in order to accomplish the goal of a championship that most people thought would have been closer.

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