This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.
After starting 20 games as a sophomore Jared Swopshire missed all of last season due to a groin injury that took much more time to heal than was originally expected. According to both The Cardinal Connect and the U of L official website Swopshire is now listed as a red-shirt Junior and will be able to play for the Cards for two more full seasons.
During his sophomore season Swopshire proved to have a very valuable and unique skill set while averaging 6.1 rebounds a game (in 25.0 MPG) but also ranking 6th in the BIG EAST at 84% from the free throw line. The only concern is that the Cards seem to be loaded with talent at the PF position with Rakeem Buckles, Chane Behanan, Stephan Van Treese and now two more years of Swopshire. How will the minutes be divided among these four proven contributors? Over the course of a long season in the grueling BIG EAST, having such depth at any position can only be viewed as a positive for the Cards but will undoubtedly result in one of the three starting PFs (Swop,Buckles and Behanan) having less playing time than they might deserve. Having Sophomore Gorgui Dieng and freshman Zach Price as the only two options at the Center position this may mean that Pitino utilizes a smaller lineup depending on the opponent at certain times during the upcoming season, with any of the four power forward options sliding over to play some center.
I think this decision by Rick Pitino is a good sign for the Cards program as a whole as it signifies Rick is convinced Swopshire’s injury is healed enough so that he will contribute over his final two seasons and also it rewards a guy who has stuck with the program during a very frustrating year of sitting on the bench. Jared can provide leadership and also contribute on the floor for two more years in a complex offensive and defensive system which only Kyle Kuric and Swopshire are entering their fourth year of being familiar with.