By Justin Renck and Steve Rummage:
In our basketball recruiting notebook, we fill you in on where the Cards stand with their top targets in the class of 2015. With small forward Deng Adel and power forward Raymond Spalding already committed, the focus is now on backcourt players.
Donovan Mitchell – Mitchell cut his list to 5 on Sunday: Louisville, Villanova, FSU, Boston College, and Providence. It is always big news when you make the final 5, but the even bigger news here is the absence of Kansas and UNC. Both came after Mitchell hard in recent weeks but now the Cards look like the lone top tier program left in the race. Providence has spent the most time on Mitchell. The Friers had a coach at every single game the 6’3 point guard played this summer. Mitchell will take an unofficial visit to Villanova today (Monday) before heading to Louisville on Thursday for an official. Nova seems to be in much better position than most think, but look for Pitino and company to try to lock this one up this week if possible. -Steve Rummage
Isaiah Briscoe – We have been saying the last few weeks in the Notebook to be on the lookout for an Arizona commitment from either Briscoe or Trier. This weekend that is exactly what happened when Allonzo Trier announced he would play for Sean Miller next season. Do the Cards want Isaiah Briscoe? We are about to find out the answer to that question. With Arizona off the table, St. John’s looks to be the favorite to land the 5-star point guard. If the Cards don’t lock up Donovan Mitchell in the coming week or two, look for Pitino to step it up for Briscoe. The hometown draw of St. John’s may be too much but Briscoe has made it known many times that he likes the Louisville style of play. The Cards could end up very strong here. -Steve Rummage
*Update- Soon after posting this week, Briscoe cut his list to 5 and Louisville is not on that list.
Bryant Crawford – I feel confident in saying that Mitchell, Ali, Blakeney, and Dozier are all ahead of Bryant Crawford on the wish list for the Cards. If the staff was wanting a commitment from him, they likely could have already had it by now. With his name all but falling off the radar for UofL, we will remove him from the following recruiting notebooks unless something else develops. -Justin Renck
PJ Dozier– Dozier is a new name to the Notebook but one to keep a very close eye on. The 6’6 combo guard cut his list this week to Louisville, Georgetown, South Carolina, North Carolina and Michigan. The Cards have worked very hard on Dozier this summer and will get a visit from the elite guard August 31st. Dozier will be on campus for the Miami football game so he should be able to see all Louisville has to offer. I did find it interesting Dozier’s visit was set up one week before Prince Ali’s. Will the Cards try to close the deal with Dozier then? Dozier is extremely athletic and would fit wonderfully under the Pitino style of play. One interesting note on the South Carolina native: His Father and Uncle were apart of the famous UofL vs South Carolina fight in 1988.
Antonio Blakeney – I haven’t followed recruiting very long, but this one has been like a roller coaster ride. I was very convinced he would end up a Card, and still convinced even recently when others were not. And then with AAU Nationals in town before last week’s notebook and Rick Pitino watching Blakeney four times, it gave me even more confidence that Blakeney could be a Card. Now I am starting to have my doubts. I have been told that he wants to make his college choice on ESPN. Not saying there is anything wrong with that. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the type of players that have been coming to UofL these last few years. And he wants to go somewhere and be “the man” right away. There aren’t too many teams out there that play as unselfish as the Louisville Cardinals. Even with Russ Smith on the team, you never got the sense that he was “the man,” but was just apart of a team. I would give it an outside chance that he ends up here, and if he does, the Cards will pick up a very talented player. But for now I am changing my prediction to Kentucky. -Justin Renck
Allonzo Trier – On Sunday afternoon, Trier announced his commitment to the University of Arizona. They seemed like the favorite anyways, so this isn’t a big shock. -Justin Renck
Prince Ali – There isn’t much change this week with Ali. He still plans to visit Louisville the weekend of September 6th. UCLA, the presumed leader for Ali, will receive a visit from him the weekend before. The 6’4 SG seems to be high on Louisville’s list at that position. One interesting note to watch here is UCLA offered 4-star SG Brandon Sampson last week and he is trending towards UCLA. If Sampson were to pop for the Bruins before Ali, things could get real serious for Louisville’s SG recuits. Again just something to watch for. -Steve Rummage
Dwayne Bacon – Not much change here. Bacon plans to cut his list in the next week or so and Louisville should be on that list. Bacon is at the Adidas Nations camp this week where he is drawing great reviews after scoring 12 points in his AM session game on Sunday. Bacon is an extremely talented player but seems to be behind Blakeney and Ali for the Cards. If Louisville were to miss one of those two look for them to put the full court press on Bacon. -Steve Rummage
Deng Adel (Commit) – Along with Spalding, I am not sure there has ever been two commits that ooze the #L1C4 attitude more than these two. Adel is participating in the Adidas Nations camp that started last Thursday and runs through today (Monday). According to Conrad Foss of Florida Elite Adel suffered a shoulder injury but continued to play on, “Deng Adel is a warrior. After sustaining shoulder injury at Super 64 he battled at Nations this week having a great week.” One coach had this to say about Adel, “Deng Adel is big time player. Love his motor and toughness. Great fit for Louisville. Wasn’t surprised players voted him on court leader.” Can’t wait to see this guy lace them up for the Cards! -Steve Rummage
Derrick Jones – Not much has changed in the last week for Derrick Jones. He still has plans to visit Louisville, along with Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, and Auburn. He has already visited UConn. Since there is still a visit planned, you never know if something may happen. But with Deng Adel already committed, and Pitino’s heavy focus on other backcourt players, I don’t see Derrick Jones ending up at Louisville. -Justin Renck
Raymond Spalding (Commit) – Spalding has had a great summer and it was a big deal for Pitino to get his commitment early before too many other schools got involved. Last week, he led his AAU team, The ‘Ville, to the championship of the AAU Nationals that were held here in Louisville. So UofL fans were able to check him out in action. Obviously, they will be able to do that plenty of times this season, as he plays for Trinity High School. -Justin Renck