The Louisville Cardinals are still dealing with uncertainty in regards to the Katina Powell escort scandal. The program self-sanctioned a postseason ban in 2015-16, however, the NCAA still has the matter under investigation and could come down even harder on the ACC giant.
Regardless of the situation, it surely doesn’t seem to be impacting Rick Pitino and company on the recruiting trail, as they landed a gem for the class of 2017.
On Thursday, 6’11” four-star center Malik Williams chose the Louisville Cardinals over a plethora of high major programs, including North Carolina State, Purdue, Indiana, UCLA, Michigan State, Iowa and Georgetown.
— Malik Williams5️⃣ (@leek_willi) August 4, 2016
Williams cut his list down to eight schools at the end of July, but the Cardinals showed the most interest and made the center their number one priority during the summer. Pitino’s staff was always court-side at Williams’ AAU games and he visited the campus multiple times.
The Indiana native, who played his high school basketball at R. Nelson Snider, is ranked 42nd in ESPN’s top-100, is the 8th ranked center in the class and the 4th best player in the state of IN.
He is the only player in ESPN’s top 45 to not participate on a shoe company AAU circuit this summer, as he played with Team Legit, showing off his athleticism, mobility and length.
Due to his size and wingspan, Williams is a superb shot blocker who is capable of protecting the rim, guarding numerous positions and bodying up his man on the interior. On offense, Williams has a nice face up game (he can attack players off the bounce), finishes above the rim and has a developing all-around post game.
With Mangok Mathiang graduating, the Cardinals could use another big to go along with Jaylen Johnson, Raymond Spalding, Anas Mahmoud, Matz Stockman and Deng Adel. All five big men are still developing, so the added depth is necessary.
Louisville also loves to pressure teams defensively and bother opposing clubs with their length. Williams will certainly help Pitino in that area, as his movement and fluidity will also greatly improved their defensive presence.
Williams is not likely a one-and-done player, but he does have immense NBA upside. If he can develop a consistent outside shot, his versatility would be off the charts on both ends of the floor.
Overall, this is a monster commitment for Louisville. Not only are they getting a talented prospect who could stay in college two or more years, but they found a replacement for Mathiang and greatly improved the back line of their defense.
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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