In his eleven years with the Louisville basketball program, Rick Pitino has brought in a lot of talented players. Some of them have gone on to have great careers at Louisville, while other didn’t necessarily pan out the way we expected. Here are the five recruits that had a lot of hype, but in the end never amounted to much with the Louisville program.
Carlos Hurt: Outside of Samardo Samuels, former Louisville point guard Carlos Hurt is the highest ranked recruit to sign with Louisville in the Rick Pitino era. Hurt was a McDonalds All American and was ranked as the 12th best player in the country. He committed to Denny Crum while he was a junior in high school. His parents were originally from Louisville which had a major role in his commitment. He moved from Texas to Louisville for his senior year of high school. Once Rick Pitino was hired, one of his first tasks was to make sure Carlos Hurt didn’t de-commit and reopen his recruiting. In Pitino’s first season, Hurt played in just 14 games due to a back injury. During his brief time on the court, Hurt looked as good as advertised. Unfortunately, he was kicked off of the team immediately following his freshman season. Hurt wound up at Robert Morris, an NAIA school in Illinois. He went on to be an NAIA All American and spent one year in the NBDL. Hurt most recently played professionally in Russia in 2009. He has since relocated back to Texas and conducts individual workouts for youth basketball players at his old high school.
Brandon Bender: Louisville native Brandon Bender was also a member of Rick Pitino’s first recruiting class. Unfortunately for Bender, he decided to transfer after his freshman season. He was suspended multiple times during his first year with the program. To my knowledge, Bender is the first high school player to try and drop of out high school after his junior season and enter the NBA Draft. At the time, a rule was in place that wouldn’t allow that to happen, but Bender made it clear that is what he wanted to do. The former Ballard Bruin was ranked as the 44th best player in the 2011 class. Bender played his second season of college basketball at Cincinnati State junior college. He then joined Carolos Hurt at Robert Morris. He played just one season at the NAIA school before entering the NBA Draft. Bender went undrafted and spent a couple of seasons in the NBDL. He played overseas in multiple different countries, most recently in 2009 in Holland. Unfortunately for Bender, he’s gotten into some trouble since stepping away from pro basketball. In 2007 he was arrested on felony fraud charges for making multiple purchases with stolen credit cards. In recent years he’s been connected with multiple NCAA investigations. Bender reportedly played a major role in Central Florida’s NCAA sanctions in 2011.
Derrick Caracter: Before signing with Louisville in 2006, Derrick Caracter had played for five different high school teams in four years. Since his eighth grade year Caracter was regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2006 class, but off the court issues throughout high school led to him having a bad reputation. Unfortunately, the bad reputation proved to be true once he arrived at Louisville. Caracter was suspended indefinitely multiple times during his two years with the Louisville program. He occupied residency in the “Pitino Dog House” from the time he arrived up until the time he left. It wasn’t talent that led to Caracter’s downfall. When he was on the floor for Louisville, he was very productive. As a sophomore, Caracter averaged 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in mostly a reserve role. He played only five minutes in the Cardinals’ 83-73 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament East Regional final. After the game, Pitino described Caracter as “a thorn in my side.” He transferred to UTEP where he played just one season before entering the NBA Draft. Caracter was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 58th pick. He played briefly with LA before being sent to the NBDL. He is currently playing professionally in Israel.
Brian Johnson: Due to injuries, it may not be fair to label Brian Johnson as a disappointment, but he had quite a bit of hype coming out of high school and produced very little in his brief time with the program. Johnson was a part of what would have been the best recruiting class in Louisville history. Unfortunately, Sebastian Telfair and Donta Smith decided to go straight to the NBA and Johnson was one of the only commitments that made it to campus. He was ranked as the 40th best player in the 2004 class. Johnson averaged 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 30 games for Louisville in 2005-06 after sitting out the 2004-05 season due to knee injuries. He transferred to Mississippi State after his sophomore year, following his third knee surgery. He had a minimal role with the Bulldogs and spent a couple of seasons overseas. He most recently played in 2010 for a team in Denmark.
Bryan Harvey: Harvey, a Compton, CA. native was the highlight of Rick Pitino’s 2005 recruiting class. He was ranked as one of the top shooting guards in the 2005 class and chose to sign with Louisville over Connecticut and Arizona. In February of 2006, Harvey up and quit the team. He claims it was to focus on academics so his grades were in order and he could transfer to another school during the summer. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 20 games for Louisville during his freshman season. Harvey later transferred to Fresno State. After sitting out for a year due to the transfer rule, he played in 18 games for the Bulldogs in 2008, but lasted only one year before deciding to transfer again. Harvey wound up at California State East Bay, an NAIA school. He played in just one game before quitting the team. I can’t confirm this, but I’ve been told by multiple people that Harvey actually lives in the Louisville area and can be found playing in competitive adult leagues in the city.