David Padgett is the right man to lead UofL basketball this year. Don’t listen to these columnists who claim he’s tainted because of the scandals. He appears to be a great guy, he has high basketball acumen, and he’s exactly what UofL basketball needs right now.
As young assistant coach trying to work his way up the ranks to be a permanent head coach, Padgett could’ve decided to leave UofL when this new scandal or even the old one broke. There is no reason to stick around and deal with someone else’s mess.
Yet, David Padgett chose to stay and endure. According to his own words, he’s staying for the players because he loves them. It’s pretty clear from the press conference held by the captains last week that the feeling is mutual. In an age of cynicism and skepticism, it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s that simple. However, Padgett’s words seem very genuine. His actions are backing them up.
Take, for instance, the introduction of the team at half time of the UofL versus Murray State football game. Padgett chose not to be on the field with the team. His reasoning was that this was about the players and not him. He wanted every bit of recognition, applause, and love to be showered upon them. No wonder the players lobbied President Postel and those in power to make him the coach.
Don’t let the sentimental stuff blind you to his coaching ability. He’s the son of a coach and he apprenticed under one of the greatest coaches to ever roam the sidelines in Rick Pitino. Padgett knows the game. He’s had a hand in helping Anas Mahmoud develop more as a center. Especially with the mental aspects of the position. Mahmoud said of his new head coach, “He has been my mentor since I’ve been here. I wouldn’t be where I am now without DP.”
Now could Padgett be the long-term answer to rebuild the program? In my opinion, the jury is out. None of us know what kind of recruiter he can be. As far as his ability to game plan, game manage, and make in-game adjustments, this year is his audition.
However, he fits the mold of a coach who can take a program on fire and put out the flames. He’s young, he’s energetic, he seems like he is a great teacher, and a great motivator. Most importantly, he cares about the program and wants it succeed.
Still, that’s probably looking way too far ahead. I’m sure he would say it is. And that may be the biggest reason why UofL made the right choice in naming him interim coach. In his eyes, this season isn’t about him. It’s about the players. It’s about the fans. Despite the fact a lot of people hate the saying, it’s about putting Louisville first. David Padgett is the epitome of a “Louisville man.”