Just over four months after the Louisville Basketball Team won the National Basketball Championship, fans seemed to be in a panicked state proclaiming ‘the sky is falling’ in regards to recruiting.
Two highly-touted prospects of the Louisville Basketball team have recently renounced their commitment to the program. It started with Quentin Snider. A local product from Ballard High School, who has shown a incredible growth in scoring around the rim and also has tremendous potential. Snider has since committed to Illinois. The second and most recent is Jaquan Lyle. The star of the class, and a virtual lock of reaching the NBA within two years at the Collegiate level.
These decommitments are troubling, there is no ignoring that. One five star caliber player and one four star caliber player. One ranked as the 22nd best prospect in the Country, the other as the 34th best according to 247Sports Composite. No fan-base wants to lose guys who are viewed by ‘experts’ to be highly talented. However, with the case being specific to the University of Louisville, these decisions shouldn’t cause a Louisville fan to fret.
You need not look far to find Coaches that can’t win the big one without the most talented pieces at each place on the floor. That’s certainly not the case with Rick Pitino.
The best example is also the most recent example. The 2013 Louisville Basketball team won a National Championship without a lottery pick. As Rick Bozich of WDRB pointed out, only two of the last 20 NCAA National Champion teams won without producing a Lottery Pick.
Rick Pitino has not only done that with a National Championship team once. He’s done it with two Final Four teams. Once in 2005, with a unlikely crew led by Taquan Dean and Franciso Garcia. The next in 2012 with a more improbable group. In fact, none of the Cardinals from that team where drafted by the NBA following. Two teams that had no business remaining as one of the four best teams in College Basketball those seasons. That folks, is what we call ‘getting the highest results from your players’.
The examples hardly stop there.
Let’s start with Russ Smith. A two star prospect from Brooklyn, NY. Getting a Big East offer? Forget about it. Smith was having enough trouble attracting elite programs like Fordham and Hosftra. Three years in the Rick Pitino system and his accomplishments mirror that of a Top Draft pick. An All-Big East Team member, 1,000 point scorer at Louisville, Oscar Robertson Trophy Finalist, and most recently named a Pre-Season All American Member by the Nations most respected publication — Blue Ribbon Yearbook.
How about Gorgui Dieng? The slim, 6-11 C from Senegal, looked like more work than potential coming out of High School. ESPN College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman once wrote this of Dieng: “It’s truly sad when Louisville fans are celebrating the eligibility of Gorgui Dieng. It’s Gorgui Dieng. The again, Pitino needs bodies.” At the time, Goodman may have been right. A 3 star prospect, Dieng’s only other top offers while in High School? Marquette and Memphis. Three years with Rick Pitino? Gorgui Dieng is the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and signing a multi-million dollar contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Even the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, the sharp-shooting Luke Hancock was hardly a star before Rick Pitino got to him. At George Mason he had a career high of 19 points against Towson. At Louisville he had a career high of 22 points against Michigan, all while winning the 2013 National Championship game. It took Pitino one year to make that happen.
The fact is nobody in the Country does more with less than Rick Pitino. While Tom Crean lost in the Elite 8 with two Top 5 NBA Draft Picks, Pitino won a National Championship with a virtually starless Louisville Basketball team.
Sure. Getting the best talent each year garners the headlines makes a coaches job less stressful. But Rick Pitino doesn’t need that.
Save the 5-star status before coming into the University of Louisville Program, if you don’t have it, Rick Pitino will assuredly give you the best chance to leave with it.
Whomever the Louisville Basketball team signs with this Class and classes in the future, the talent level isn’t the most important thing to concern yourself with. If they possess the character, work ethic, and potential, Pitino will take them to the next level and beyond.
Don’t mind me if I giggle at the notion or worry about Louisville not attracting top talent, I’ve just seen it not matter so often before.