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.