Despite dealing with an NCAA scandal involving paid escortsRick Pitino added a talented 2017 top-50 center, Malik Williams, during the first week of August.
The Louisville Cardinals are back in business two weeks later as they added 6’2″ point guard Darius Perry on Tuesday.
“I went down to Louisville and I got to watch them practice and see how Pitino works and see that kind of environment,” Perry said. “I got a good feel for the people I’m going to be around, the town I’m going to be in and how the team is going to be.”
“About Louisville when I got there, it wasn’t even the coaches, as much as it was the players that hit me,” he said. “I love how Pitino coaches and criticizes everything that they did. He makes everyone that comes through a better player. He tries his hardest and even in individuals he’s standing right there critiquing. I loved that the most. That’s how my dad is. I know it’s something that I know I’ll hear from my dad anyways. My dad has had a big influence on me and if I can’t play for him I want someone that is similar to him.”
The Power Springs, GA native spurned his hometown school, Georgia, and other offers from Baylor, Florida State, Memphis, Miami, Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and Xavier, amongst others. He is ranked 48th in ESPN’s top 100 for the class of 2017, is labeled as the 6th best prospect in Georgia, and is the 10th best talent at the point guard position.
Perry can play both the one and the two guard because of his quickness, aggressiveness, and fearless ability to attack the rim off the bounce. He has a lethal first step, which helps him either get all the way to the rim or create separation in the mid-range. The Wheeler High School product also has the range on his jumper that helps him extend the defense beyond the arc.
But the guard doesn’t just impact the game on the offensive end.
He is a tremendous on-ball defender because of his speed, lateral ability and toughness. Obviously, at 6’2″, Perry is capable of guarding both guard positions, but is better when defending ones.
While he needs to put on size, should develop as a passer, and must improve his consistency from long range, Perry is the perfect guard for Pitino’s system. Louisville loves to full court press and they enjoy playing fast (remember when they had Russ Smith and Peyton Siva??).
And that’s exactly what Perry is capable of doing.
Quentin Snider has two years of eligibility left (he will be a senior when Perry gets on campus), so the veteran point guard can help Perry key in on his shot selection and decision making, while also helping him get adjusted to the speed of the college game.
With Perry and Williams now in the fold for 2017, Louisville is showing that they are capable of overcoming a scandal without it greatly impacting their recruiting picture.
Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.
Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.
“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”
Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.
Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.
“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”
“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”
Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.
I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”
“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”
The Madness is Underway
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:
Atlantic Sun: Liberty
Big South: Gardner–Webb
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Missouri Valley: Bradley
MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit League: North Dakota State
Summit League: Saint Marry’s
Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!
Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25
A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.
Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017) the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.
According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.
Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.
Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?
Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.
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