I know a lot of venom has been thrown around this year’s Derby Classic game due to the war of words between the organizers of the game and UK supporters. Although the game would be undoubtedly better with the four UK recruits who decided to play in the Jordan Brand game, this year’s Derby affair still has talent and will still be entertaining.
Louisville fans will be pleased to see three of the four already inked and a possible fifth 2011 recruit playing on the same team. Signees Chane Behanan, Angel Nunez, and Zach Price are already Cards. They will attempt to sway Kevin Ware, a former Tennessee signeee, to come join them in the Derby city next season. Ware reportedly picked Central Florida earlier in the week, but it has also been said he is having cold feet about the decision and there is still the possibilty of him becoming a Card. The 6-4 guard from Georgia would give the Cards much needed back court depth.
Wayne Blackshear, the McDonald’s All-American from Chicago and also a Louisville signee, has been battling a shoulder injury and will not play in front of his future fans tonight while he recovers from surgery.
Last night, the recruits showcased their skills in the Night of the Future Stars at Bellarmine’s Knight’s Hall. Here are a few observations from the Louisville guys last night and what to expect from them in the main event tonight…
Chane served as the make-shift host in his future college home. He was joking around with everyone, playing up to the crowd, and just basically making himself at home. As for his play, Behanan and potential UK recruit Trevor Lacey made the finals of the 2-on-2 competition and he participated in both the 3-point shoot-out and slam dunk contest. Chane looks like he could put on a Louisville jersey right now and be a contributor. He is the right mix of size, strength and finesse from the outside. He creates match-up problems for big guys due to his quickness and smaller guys due to his strength. Out of all the guys coming in to this year’s Louisville class, Behanan is the most ready for Big East play. With the injuries to Jared Swopshire and Rakeem Buckles along with Pitino’s distrust in Steven Van Treese, I would not be surprised if Chane steps in and starts at the 4 spot next year.
When you hear the term “project center”, which has been thrown around in talks about Price, you think about a tall, skinny bum with no post moves. That couldn’t be further from the truth with Price. Although he’s still a little rough around the edges, Price is a legit 7-footer, has a filled out body, and showed a nice left-handed hook shot. However, unlike Behanan, Price probably won’t be a big contributor next season. He does get after it defesively and on the boards, so should Terrence Jennings leave or the injury bug bite yet again, it won’t be too big of a drop off if Price sees some action. The most impressive thing Price did last night was beat about half the field in the 3-points shoot-out with an ugly left-handed jumper from an awkward big man. Had to be embarassing for the guards used to camping out beyond the arch losing to a guy who probably hasn’t shot a 3 in his high school career.
The word “upside” is thrown around a lot in basketball. In Nunez’ case, the phrase fits. His 6-8 190lb frame could use some muscle and his game could do some honing, but his potential is through the roof. Shooting and athleticism are Nunez’ greatest attributes. The form on his jumper is textbook and he showed his athletic ability by reaching the finals of the dunk contest. Due to his long and wiry frame, Nunez probably won’t make an immediate impact, but if Pitino can get his body whipped into shape he will be tough as an upperclassman. Nunez gets a lot of comparisons to Francisco Garcia due to his body type and jumper. However, I would say he’s more like an Earl Clark-type. A guard in a power forward’s frame. Both are great players to be compared to and time will tell whether or not he lives up to those comparisons.
Ware kept to himself and seemed passive last night. I’m sure the fiasco that has been the last couple of weeks of his recruitment is getting to him a little bit. He does a lot of things well on the court, but nothing great. Ware is known for his athleticism, but he didn’t compete in the dunk contest so he didn’t get to show it off too much. Tonight will give a better indication of how his game would fit in a Cardinal uniform. The Derby game committee did everyone a favor by putting Ware on the same team as the other 3 future Cards. Ware told reporters last night that his is still “seriously considering” Louisville despite allegedly committing to UCF earlier in the week. A warm reception and good performance in the Yum! could put the Cards over the top in the recruitment of the Georgia guard.