What Could Have Been For Rick Pitino And The Louisville Basketball Program

It’s getting old, isn’t it? Since being hired at Kentucky, John Calipari, is on his way to his fifth consecutive number one recruiting class. Calipari’s 2013 group will likely be on one of the best recruiting classes of all time.  Number one recruiting classes don’t mean much unless these guys show up and prove that they’re ready to be elite at the next level. Unfortunately, Calipari’s 2011 class did exactly that and ended Louisville’s 2011-12 season in the Final Four.

Seeing how great Calipari is recruiting at Kentucky has some Louisville fans overreacting about the type of recruits that Pitino is bringing in. It took a little longer for the talent to be elite at the college level, but at this point Louisville has one of the deepest and most talented teams in the country heading into the 2012-13 season. Sure, there have been a couple of classes in Pitino’s tenure at Louisville that didn’t turn out exactly like we had hoped. However, there are also quite a few elite level recruits that Pitino was able to sign, but those guys were talented enough to pass up college and go straight to the NBA. There are also a few guys that were talented enough, but left Louisville simply because they couldn’t handle how Pitino runs his program.

There are a lot of great players that have signed with Louisville since Rick Pitino has been here, but let’s take a look at some of the guys who never showed up, left early to transfer or turn pro.

Never Showed Up:

–2003, Sebastian Telfair: McDonalds All American who was thought to be one of the best high school basketball players of all time. Telfair committed and signed with Louisville before deciding to enter the NBA draft instead of attending college.

–2003, James Lang: Top 10 overall player in the 2003 class that had never committed to Louisville, but publicly said that had he went to college it would have been to play for Rick Pitino. Lang entered the NBA draft out of high school and played just two seasons in the league. He suffered a stroke in 2008 and is now partially paralyzed.

–2003, Donta Smith: Played locally at Oldham Co. High School and went onto JUCO where he was regarded as one of the top prospects in the country. Smith committed and signed with Louisville, but decided to forgo college and enter the NBA Draft because of academic concerns. There was speculation that Smith feared he wouldn’t qualify.

–2005, Clarence Holloway: Showed up, but never played. Holloway was a former 5-star prospect who’s college career was ended before it started due to a serious heart condition.

–2005, Amir Johnson: 4-star recruit that chose Louisville over a number of elite level schools, before deciding to enter the NBA draft out of high school. Johnson is still in the NBA to this day.

–2010, Justin Coleman: Former 5-star recruit who didn’t qualify academically. He played one season at Marshall before being dismissed from the team. Coleman now attends to JUCO in Texas.

–2010, Jeremy Tyler: Originally a member of the 2010 class and verbally committed to Louisville, but he dropped out of high school after his junior season to turn pro. Tyler was later drafted by the Golden State Warriors. Tyler is the first player to drop out of school to turn pro overseas.

Left Early:

– 2001, Carolos Hurt: Louisville’s first McDonalds All American in nearly a decade. Played sparingly in his freshman season before being sidelined with a back injury. Hurt was later dismissed from the team.

–2001, Brandon Bender: 5-star prospect who showed signs of tremendous upside in his freshman season, but was dismissed from the team to disciplinary reasons.

–2002, Prileu Davis: 4-star JUCO PG, who played in just 11 games in his one and only season. Davis transferred to Grand Canyon University, a division two school in Arizona.

– 2003, Noah Diakite: JUCO All American from France. Diakite played in 19 games in 2003-04 before leaving in the middle of the season to turn pro in France.

–2003, Nate Daniels: JUCO All American. Daniels played in all 30 games his first year with Louisville averaging 11.2 minutes per game. He transferred to NAIA Blue Mountain State for his final year.

–2004, Lorenzo Wade: Played just one season at Louisville before transferring to San Diego State where he became an honorable mention All American.

–2004, Brian Johnson: 4-star All American who struggled to find minutes at Louisville. Johnson later transferred to Mississippi State.

–2005, Bryan Harvey: 5-star prospect who chose Louisville over Kansas and UConn. Played in just one season at Louisville before transferring to Fresno State where he played just one season. Harvey finished his career at Cal State East-Bay.

There have been some great players at Louisville over the last decade, but it’s scary think how much better these Louisville teams would have been had some of these guys showed up or if some of them would have been nearly as good as we had hoped.

About Nick Coffey

Nick Coffey
Nick Coffey is the creator and lead publisher for TheCardinalConnect.com. Along with covering Louisville basketball, football and recruiting, Nick has worked in sports talk radio for over three years.

One comment

  1. Derrick Caracter

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