As was reported recently, Louisville senior-to-be Terrence Jennings decided to test the waters throw his name into the NBA Draft pool. The consensus is that Jennings has a very slim chance of getting drafted depite the weak nature of this year’s class. However, in his press conference Tuesday Rick Pitino said he is preparing for next season as if Jennings won’t be there.
After the Samardo Samuels fiasco last year when Pitino thought for sure that the Jamaican big-man would return only to see him leave for the pros, the coach might just be preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. He almost looked out of the loop on the situation. Nonetheless, he will not be burnt again.
The Louisville center has until May 8 to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school.
Jennings was the most polarizing player on the Louisville roster this past season. It seemed as though half the fan base was satisfied with his improvement over the course of the year and content with the way he performed. The other half seemingly watched in disgust as he continued to underachieve…and not rebound.
I think both sides can agree on one thing. For Louisville to maximize their potential next season, they need a motivated, healthy Jennings on the team. In turn, for Jennings to reach his dream as a NBA player, he needs to come back for his senior season with the Cards and improve his post game and rebounding.
If Jennings were to leave, the Cards would have depth issues inside which is never a good thing, especially with the injuries that have plagued the team recently. Gorgui Dieng showed last season he can match-up well with elite competition, but not full-time due to foul trouble and the fact he has only played organized American basketball for less than 2 years. Zach Price has the body-type and skills to contribute off the bench, but not more than 10 minutes or so a game in his freshman season.
A Jennings/Dieng/Price three-headed monster would give Louisville 3 serviceable big-men to go with the slew of ball-handlers and wings they have returning.
Add that to the fact that a Jennings return would make it easier for Pitino to let potential disaster, Tony Woods, go elsewhere and save some face with a fan base that really would prefer the former Wake Forest center not be seen in Cardinal red and black. It’s not guaranteed, but it would be more likely that Woods becomes a Card if Jennings leaves for good.
Everyone can admit (I hope) that Jennings had some “mental lapses” at times this past season. Jennings’ critics will tell you he may be the worst rebounder for his size that has put on a Louisville uniform in years. Jennings’ supporters will tell you his rebounding numbers improved as the season went along and things are looking nowhere but up when it comes to next season should he return.
Like I said, he is a pretty polarizing dude.
Even though many may disagree, there is a place for Jennings in the pros eventually. He has the size, athleticism, and ability to run the floor that NBA scouts love. He also has the motor and rebounding ability to make them forget about those positive attributes. Having said that, there is nothing in Jennings’ game that can’t be improved or changed for the better with an extra year under Pitino.
Regardless how you feel about Jennings (and trust me, I cussed him more than most this year) the Cards need him next season. Despite his faults, he has something no other returning or entering big-man has on the Cards – experience.
I wouldn’t expect him all of the sudden become Hakeem Olajuwon over one off-season, but if he can improve his scoring (9.6 ppg) by a basket or two and grab 2-3 more boards (5.2 rpg) a game, Pitino would have a 12 and 8 big man. You can’t really ask for much more.
Will Jennings be back? I doubt it.
Does Jennings need to come back? Yes.
Do the Cards need Jennings to come back? Absolutely.