Who is Gone?
Russ Smith- 18.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.0 SPG
Luke Hancock-12.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG
Stephan Van Treese-2.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.0 SPG
Tim Henderson-1.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.3 SPG
Total Losses: 35.2 PPG (43.5%), 12.4 RPG (32.9%), 7.8 APG (50.8%), 4.3 SPG (43%)
(Team Averages 81 PPG, 37.7 RPG, 15.35 APG, 10.0 SPG)
Who is Returning?
Chris Jones (5-10, 175 Sr.)
Dillon Avare (5-11, 155, RS-Fr.) non-scholarship
Terry Rozier (6-1, 170, Soph.)
David Levitch (6-3, 190, Soph) non-scholarship
Anton Gill (6-4, 180, Soph.)
Wayne Blackshear (6-5, 230, Sr.)
Montrezl Harrell-(6-8, 235, Jr.)
Akoy Agau (6-8, 235, Soph.)
Mangok Mathiang (6-10, 200, Soph.)
Who is New?
Quentin Snider (6-1, 170, Fr.)
Shaqquan Aaron (6-7, 175, Fr.)
Jaylen Johnson (6-9, 215, Fr.)
Chinanu Onuaku (6-10, 230, Fr.)
Anas Osama Mahmoud (7-1, 210, Fr.)
Matz Stockman (7-2, 238, Fr.)
PG: Chris Jones/Quentin Snider/Terry Rozier/Dillon Avare
SG: Terry Rozier/Anton Gill/Chris Jones/Quentin Snider/David Levitch
SF: Wayne Blackshear/Shaqquan Aaron/Anton Gill/Anas Osama Mahmoud
PF: Montrezl Harrell/Jaylen Johnson/Chinanu Onuaku/Akoy Agau/Wayne Blackshear/Anas Osama Mahmoud
C: Chinanu Onuaku/Mangok Mathiang/Montrezl Harrell/Jaylen Johnson/Akoy Agau/Matz Stockman
Louisville has every scholarship filled with the Montrezl Harrell remaining at Louisville.
On paper Louisville certainly looks like a CONTENDER for the National Championship and a favorite for the Final Four. The return of Montrezl Harrell provided MUCH needed experience, depth and talent to an otherwise very young frontcourt. Harrell returns for his junior season as a captain after turning down an opportunity to become a 1st Round Draft pick in the NBA. The frontcourt, while it may lack experience, IS HUGE. Louisville has 7 players who stand 6-8 or better, 4 of which are 6-10 or taller. Louisville should be BIG and a major battle for a starting position will be between freshman Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang at the Center spot. Mangok should improve a great deal between his freshman and sophomore seasons while Onuaku really has a high motor with a lot of rebounding and shot-blocking ability.
Jaylen Johnson is another freshman coming in that may be able to crack the rotation as he comes in highly regarded as a power forward. Rick Pitino has mentioned that Akoy Agau is a much better basketball player than the fans saw last year, and it would certainly be a good to see. Another big body to watch out for is 7-1 Anas Osama Mahmoud who could also provide minutes at the power forward or center position. Mahmoud is likely a project but even Rick Pitino mentioned that he did not know what he was getting with Anas. Rick Pitino also doesn’t really know what he is getting with 7-2 Swedish Matz Stockman. Stockman is going to be a true 5 and in the end it is widely speculated that at least Anas or Matz will red-shirt.
The backcourt has experience. Terry Rozier is positioned to move directly into a starting role after a very solid freshman season. Rozier figures to have the biggest potential for a ‘jump’ in production considering his talent and available minutes for the 2014-15 season. Rozier had an outstanding freshman season, but a very subpar NCAA Tournament by comparison to the rest of his year. I look for Terry to really polish his game this summer and take on a leadership role. Rozier is a true self-starter. Chris Jones returns after a strong close to his junior season. Jones took a little time to adapt to College Basketball and then struggled with some injuries in the middle as well. But once settled Chris was fantastic. I look for more of the same next year in the ACC.
At the Small Forward Spot Wayne Blackshear returns for his senior season as a captain. The former McDonald’s All-American has taken on a direct and public challenge from Rick Pitino to become more self-assertive and to put in the work required to maximize his game. Thus far Wayne Blackshear’s production in college has been largely static and last year’s rule changes really made it difficult for him on defense. Still Wayne Blackshear was a starter on the 2013 National Championship team and has a great deal of experience. Wayne will be pushed for major minutes by Shaqquan Aaron a rangy freshman with a reputation as a shooter, a passer, and a winner. Most believe that Aaron has the offensive game to play right away at Louisville and in the Atlantic Coast Conference but does need to add size, strength, and polish his defensive game to push Wayne Blackshear.
Freshman Quentin Snider figures to see the floor right away off the bench for the Cards, but is another freshman who has a big question mark on the defensive side of the ball at this level. Anton Gill can provide depth at both the SG and SF positions if needed. Coach Pitino lamented during the season that Anton Gill is a much better basketball player than the fans saw during the 2013-14 season as well.
Louisville Basketball has a lot of known and a lot of unknown going into the 2014-15 season and a new conference in the ACC. The league figures to be the best college basketball league ever created on paper and should be a true treat to the college basketball crazy Cardinal Fanbase. But as for the roster, the Cards are adding 6 freshman and losing 5 iconic players that will go down in the history books at UofL. Will the transition be easy??????? No.
But the Cards do have a lot of pieces to be multiple, play different styles and create match-up problems for most of college basketball. Can Louisville’s backcourt remain elite without Russ Smith? Can Wayne Blackshear progress as a basketball player? How mature will Chris Jones be as a leader? Can Montrezl Harrell make a move to become an All-American? How much improvement should we expect from Terry Rozier? Who emerges between Chinanu v. Mangok? Which freshman can contribute right away? Will Louisville REALLY get much more out of Gill and Agau?
These are the questions this off-season. The answers will determine what fans should really expect in their 1st year in the ACC. We’ve got plenty of time to talk about it.
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