Recruiting Roundup: Louisville Men’s Basketball Edition

With the recruiting period now live and coaches going around the country to visit prospects in their homes, CSZ is here to give you a roundup of who Louisville Men’s Basketball coaches are visiting in the 2020 class.

First, though, some significant pieces of news. First, Nimari Burnett, a 5 Star G from Chicago, has recently cancelled the visit he had scheduled for September 13th to UofL.

He consequently dropped them from his top 5 as well. Looks like UofL is definitely out of the running for Burnett.

Secondly, 4 Star 2021 PG and Louisville target Cam Hayes has reclassified to the 2020 class and he committed to NC State. Obviously, that puts Louisville out of the running there.

However, there are still quite a few high level prospects that Louisville has its eyes on. Let’s see whom Chris Mack and staff have been visiting so far this week.

DJ Steward 

DJ Steward
Photo Courtesy of 247sports
  • Rating: 5 Star
  • Position: CG
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • National Rank: 25th
  • Positional Rank: 6th
  • Offers: 21, including Louisville, Duke, Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, Arizona, and Florida, among others. 
  • Scheduled Official Visit: September 27th for “Louisville Live.” 

Per Jake Weingarten of UofL Rivals, DJ Steward met with both Head Coach Chris Mack and top assistant Luke Murray on Monday.

From what information I can gather, this is essentially a two horse race at this point between the Cards and the Blue Devils. As of right now, Steward is scheduled to be one of the visitors in town for the second annual “Louisville Live” event at 4th Street Live on September 27th.

With Mack and Murray both visiting the electric combo guard, it’s obvious he is a top priority for the staff. Louisville has been recruiting him heavily for a long period of time. This likely will be a long battle, but his official visit could obviously sway him.

It’s no wonder why UofL covets Steward. He’s an elite ball handler and athlete that can get to the rim at will and finish. Steward has a nice jumper that can be utilized both from mid-range and long-range. He reminds me a lot of Donovan Mitchell, but with a more polished jump shot. This is one that UofL seems to be working very hard on and he would be an unbelievable asset to the 2020 class.

Jaemyn Brakefield

Jaemyn Brakefield
Photo Courtesy of 247sports
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: PF
  • Height: 6’8
  • Weight: 210 lbs
  • National Rank: 37th
  • Positional Rank: 6th
  • Offers: 31, including Louisville, Auburn, Florida State, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, and West Virginia, among others. 
  • Scheduled Official Visit: September 27th for “Louisville Live”

Per UofL Rival’s Jake Weingarten, Jaemyn Brakefield was visited by UofL Head Coach Chris Mack on Tuesday.

Brakefield is a player that UofL has been recruiting really hard for a very long time. The recruitment of Brakefield appears to be pretty wide open, but with only two official visits scheduled so far, we can get a pretty good idea of which schools he is focusing on. After visiting Auburn on September 6th, Brakefield is scheduled to visit UofL for “Louisville Live” on September 27th. He is one a handful of elite, uncommitted 2020 players that will be there for the event.

It is hard to predict where Brakefield will commit at this point. He only trimmed his list of schools to 10 on August 19th. However, with only two visits scheduled and one he is working to schedule to Michigan, the picture of which schools stand out among those top 10 is evident.

This is a recruitment Coach Mack won’t give up on easily. He has coveted this 6’8 skilled PF for a very long time. Brakefield is nearly a perfect prototype of what Chris Mack wants in a PF. He can get down low and rebound and finish around the rim well. He can hit the three-point shot when open and can take his man off the dribble and finish at the rim. He is very good at finishing at the rim. Brakefield is also a very good passer. I expect this recruitment to go down to the very bitter end just as DJ Steward’s will. As they did with Aidan Igiehon, Louisville must win Brakefield over at “Louisville Live.” I have no doubt that Card fans will make a major impression on Jaemyn Brakefield at 4th Street Live on September 27th.

Josh Hall

Josh Hall
Photo Courtesy of Phenom Hoop Report
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: SF
  • Height: 6’9
  • Weight: 190 lbs
  • National Rank: 40th
  • Positional Rank: 10th
  • Offers: 27, including Louisville, Kansas, Texas, Florida, Florida State, and NC State, among others. 
  • Official Visit: Visited Louisville on September 1st

Per 247sports’ Jody Demling, Louisville assistant coach Dino Gaudio visited with Josh Hall on Wednesday.

Hall is a long, lanky F that fits Coach Chris Mack’s system. Louisville recently offered him in July. Hall’s recruitment seems pretty wide open at this point. This is likely because many of the offers he has were only recently received. Hall officially visited Louisville back on September 1st and, by all accounts, really enjoyed the visit. He has also visited NC State on September 6th. As of right now, it appears Louisville and NC State are sitting in pretty good position to land Hall, but LSU appears to really be making a push as LSU head coach Will Wade visited Josh Hall on September 9th.

Hall is a very skilled F. He can shoot the lights out from three-point range with a silky smooth shot. Hall can handle the ball pretty well and uses this ability to get to the rim. At the rim, Hall is a good finisher because of his length. He possesses a decent pull up jumper as well. For Chris Mack, he can play the SF position, but I think once he puts on a little muscle he can play as a stretch 4. This is a player that Louisville would most definitely want to get a commitment from.

Caleb Love

Caleb Love
Photo Courtesy of 247sports
  • Rating: 5 Star
  • Position: PG
  • Height: 6’3 
  • Weight: 170 lbs
  • National Rank: 20th
  • Positional Rank: 4th
  • Offers: 26, including Louisville, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, among others. 
  • Official Visit: September 27th for “Louisville Live”

Per both UofL Rivals’ Jake Weingarten and 247sports’ Jody Demling, Louisville assistant Luke Murray visited with Caleb Love in St. Louis on Tuesday.

Love is a top priority PG target for the UofL staff. In fact, he may be the top target. This is going to be a big battle between the Cards, North Carolina, Missouri, and Kansas it appears.

Love recently cut his list to these final 4 and plans to officially visit all of the schools before committing. He visited Missouri on September 6th and is scheduled to visit North Carolina on September 20th, Louisville for “Louisville Live” on September 27th, and Kansas on October 11th. Louisville is in a very good position at this point with Love. “Louisville Live” could be the ultimate chance to close the deal.

Love is an excellent PG that would have a chance to play significant minutes if he chose to come to Louisville. He is a pass first PG. Love has excellent court vision; seeing the entire court and being able to read the defense and find an open man. His passes are always on the money. An efficient scorer, Love can take over a game scoring wise when necessary. He has a nice step back and pull up jumper, can shoot from 3, and has sneaky good athleticism that he uses to finish around the rim. Louisville is likely going to fight tooth and nail to get this young man into a Cardinal uniform.

Jay Scrubb

Jay Scrubb
Photo Courtesy of Garrett Ellwood/USA Basketball
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: SG
  • Height: 6’6
  • Weight: 220 lbs
  • National Rank: N/A
  • Positional Rank: N/A
  • Offers: 19 offers, including Louisville, Cincinnati, Alabama, Missouri, and Memphis, among others. 
  • Official Visit: September 27th for “Louisville Live”

Per Jody Demling of 247sports, Luke Murray stopped by the same day he visited Caleb Love to visit Jay Scrubb.

Scrubb is a Louisville native that played for Trinity High School. He is currently playing ball at the junior college level. Scrubb unofficially visited Louisville on August 1st before swinging by an visiting Cincinnati on August 6th. He is set to return to Louisville and officially visit for “Louisville Live” on September 27th. The recruitment of Scrubb has really blown up in the last few months. In fact, there is talk he may skip transferring up to the division 1 level of college basketball and head into the NBA Draft. This should give people a good idea of just how good Scrubb is. However, if he chooses to go division 1, I think Louisville is in the catbird seat so to speak. Cincinnati appears to be the main competition at this point outside of the NBA Draft. Of course, as we all know with recruiting, things can quickly.

At 6’6, Scrubb possesses excellent size for a SG. Coach Mack definitely has shown throughout his career that he favors bigger guards. Scrubb is a deadeye shooter from long range, a good ball handler that can initiate the offense, a very good passer with excellent court vision, and highly athletic. Scrubb can get to the rim and finish and hit step-back jumpers. Basically, he is a swiss army knife on offense. It’s likely that Scrubb will wait until the spring to make a decision since there is talk he is considering going into the NBA Draft. Louisville, unless they pick up another guard they covet beforehand, will be in this one for the long haul.

Update

Per UofL Rivals’ Jake Weingarten, UofL Head Coach Chris Mack will be following up Luke Murray’s visit with Jay Scrubb last week by visiting him tomorrow; Tuesday, September 17th. This just shows how much of a priority Scrubb is for UofL.

Zach Loveday

Zach Loveday
Photo Courtesy of 247sports
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: C
  • Height: 7’0
  • Weight: 200 lbs
  • National Rank: 118th
  • Positional Rank: 15th
  • Offers: 11, including Louisville, Baylor, Ohio State, Florida, and Indiana, among others
  • Official Visit: Visited Louisville on September 1st

Per Jody Demling of 247sports, Chris Mack visited with Zach Loveday on Tuesday, the same day he visited Jaemyn Brakefield. Brakefield and Loveday are currently teammates at Huntington Prep.

Loveday visited Louisville on September 1st and by all accounts the visit went very well. This is a C that Louisville has been recruiting since last year. Loveday visited Baylor on September 6th and is scheduled to visit Ohio State on September 20th. I would say these two schools are Louisville’s main competition at this point in Loveday’s recruitment. Loveday seems to really like Louisville and Coach Chris Mack. However, Baylor seems to have made a really good impression on Loveday during his visit and Ohio State is Loveday’s home state school. This one is tough to gauge at this point, but regardless, Louisville will be recruiting Loveday for the long haul.

Loveday is a very skilled C, but will likely need to put on some muscle. He can shoot the ball from 3, he can handle it a little and occasionally drive to the basket as well. As a big, he is very good at moving without the ball and finding open space around the basket for the guards to get him the ball and finish around the rim. He shows a decent ability to pass out of the post as well. Loveday is a C that Chris Mack loves because of his size and these skills. Mack loves Cs that can shoot and know how to get open around the basket. Loveday is definitely a player that Louisville wants, but we will have to see what happens because there is no clear indication as to where Loveday is leaning at this time.

Eugene Brown

Eugene Brown
Photo Courtesy of 247sports
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: SG/SF
  • Height: 6’6
  • Weight: 185 lbs
  • National Rank: 111th
  • Positional Rank: 25th
  • Offers: 13, including Georgia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Auburn, and Texas A&M, among others. Louisville has yet to offer.
  • Official Visit: October 4th

Per Jake Weingarten, Coach Chris Mack and assistant Mike Pegues visited Eugene Brown on Thursday.

Though Louisville has yet to offer the 4 Star SG, they are showing a ton of interest. That is evident by the fact Coach Mack and Coach Pegues both went to visit him. Therefore, I think an offer will be coming at some point soon. Based on the visits that Brown has scheduled, it appears the schools he is favoring right now are home state schools Georgia and Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Texas A&M in addition to Louisville. I’m not sure how to gauge Louisville’s recruitment of Brown at this point as it is relatively recent. It’ll be interesting to see if and when Louisville offers.

Brown is a quick player with good handles. His greatest asset, outside of ball handling, is shooting. This young man can fill it up by penetrating the defense and hitting mid-range pullups or by shooting it long range from 3. He shows range well beyond the high school 3-point arc. He can be a catch-and-shoot guy, off the bounce in transition, or using step backs. He is very good at finding an angle to attack in the defense and exploiting it. This is a player that, at this point, doesn’t seem to be a main priority, but that I think Louisville likes enough to make him a 1a priority. I expect an offer to be announced by Brown at some point. This is a player Louisville fans should keep a close eye on.

Update

Eugene Brown has committed to Ohio State. This obviously is a likely indicator that UofL will focus on players like Hall and Scrubb.

Deivon Smith

Deivon Smith
Photo Courtesy of 247sports
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: PG
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 160 lbs
  • National Rank: 51st
  • Positional Rank: 7th
  • Offers: 19, including Louisville, NC State, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Oregon, Miami, among others
  • Official Visit: Visited Louisville on September 6th

Per Jody Demling of 247sports, Coach Chris Mack and Mike Pegues both visited Deivon Smith on Thursday while also visiting Eugene Brown.

There was a lot of smoke around that Deivon Smith might commit on his official visit to Louisville, but that did not come to pass. With Coach Mack and Coach Pegues both visiting him on Thursday, it seems pretty obvious that Louisville is still pushing really hard to get the dynamic PG to be the first commitment for the 2020 class. Smith visited NC State on August 30th and is set to visit Mississippi State on September 20th followed by a visit to Miami on September 28th. It is likely we will not know where Smith will commit until sometime after he has finished up his official visits. However, based on the schools he is visiting, it seems pretty clear which schools Smith is focused on. NC State may be out of the running as they just received a commitment from reclassifying 2020 PG Cam Hayes. However, they may could take Smith and possibly have both play in the backcourt together similar to what Louisville has done in the recent past with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith or Terry Rozier and Chris Jones.

Smith is an electric athlete that is very bouncy. He is quick and can get to the rim at will. His leaping ability makes him a great finisher around the rim. He is developing a nice looking shot that he is extending beyond the arc. His elite ball handling makes him a player defenses have to account for. Though Coach Mack has often shown a preference for longer guards, Deivon Smith is such a unique prospect. His leaping ability and quickness make him play longer as he is able to block shots from the weakside and stay in front of his man on defense. I expect Mack is working hard to get a commitment from Smith, but it likely will not come until after his visits. I do not think Mack will wait on him, however. The Cards are in on a couple of other PGs including, of course, Caleb Love. However, I could see a scenario where Louisville may take both Love and Smith. Time will tell.

JJ Traynor

JJ Traynor
Photo Courtesy of @PURE_PROSPECTS Twitter Account
  • Rating: 4 Star
  • Position: PF
  • Height: 6’8
  • Weight: 195 lbs
  • National Rank: 79th
  • Positional Rank: 14th
  • Offers: 4, including Western Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Evansville, and DePaul. Louisville and Cincinnati showing significant interest
  • Official Visit: None scheduled, but has unofficially visited Louisville on August 26th and Cincinnati on August 29th. Scheduled to unofficially visit UK on October 11th

Per JJ Traynor’s high school coach, Boo Brewer, Traynor was visited by Louisville assistant Dino Gaudio on Tuesday.

Per Demling, Gaudio was there to watch Traynor work out. It appears the Cards are showing a significant amount of interest in this legacy recruit. This is an interesting recruitment to watch as there are quite a upper echelon programs showing interest, but none have offered. Traynor appears to be trying hard to land an offer from one of the regional powers in the area, having visited Louisville and Cincinnati and having a visit scheduled to UK. My guess is that Louisville will continue to show interest and if they miss out on the Brakefield or Hall that Traynor may get an offer. That’s just an educated guess of course. I expect that you will see reports and such that show Louisville maintaining a strong interest in Traynor for a while. It will likely lessen in strength if the Cards land Hall and/or Brakefield.

Traynor is quite an underrated prospect. He can run the floor unbelievably well and hustles both offensively and defensively. His length allows him to be an intimidating shot blocker defensively and an excellent finisher offensively around the rim. He has a very nice touch on jump hooks and shots around the rim and loves to cram dunks when the opportunity presents itself. I think that if Louisville were to end up with Traynor, he is the kind of player Mack could mold into a very good player on the college level. If he eventually lands an offer from Louisville, I think there is a good chance the son of Louisville Legend Jason Osborne could follow in his father’s footsteps. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading and we will, of course, be keeping track of the recruits. If any commit to the Cards, we will provide you with a detailed story, complete with breakdowns of their games. Stay tuned to CSZ.

*all ratings and ranking for recruits courtesy of 247sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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