Ryan McMahon is the oldest and longest tenured member of the 2019-2020 Louisville men’s basketball roster. The 23-year-old redshirt senior is entering his fifth and final season as a Cardinal, having joined the program prior to the 2015-2016 season.
By now you’ve heard the story hundreds of times. McMahon was a undersized guard from Sarasota, Florida who, despite some impressive high school numbers, was not garnering much interest from Division 1 programs. Family friend and ESPN analyst Dick Vitale took it upon himself to send Ryan’s tape to a long list of head coaches. Rick Pitino was the only coach to respond, and the rest is history.
In the four plus years later, McMahon has been one of the few constants for a program that has seen much change. He’s experienced multiple scandals, a postseason ban and two head coaching changes. He’s also been a part of some excellent basketball teams. As he’s set to start his senior season, this could very well be the best Louisville squad assembled since he stepped onto campus as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
Class: Redshirt Senior
Hometown: Sarasota, FL / Cardinal Mooney
Photo Gallery: Link (2018/2019)
McMahon joined Louisville in 2015-2016 as a redshirt freshman. It was unclear as to what his intended role would be. He was small, baby-faced and hardly had the look of someone who could contribute heavily to an ACC basketball team. As a freshman in 2016-2017, McMahon played in 28 games, averaging 2.5 points in 6.5 minutes per contest. He was primarily used as a three point specialist off the bench for a Louisville team that earned a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament. He only made one 2-point field goal on eight attempts.
As a Sophomore, Ryan took on a larger role under interim head coach David Padgett. McMahon averaged 6.6 points, 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game. He shot twice as many three-pointers and increased his average to 40.8 percent from outside. He also shot 12-25 from inside the arc as he developed into more than just a long range shooter.
Last season as a junior under first year head coach Chris Mack, McMahon again took on a larger role. He averaged 7.2 points, 1.8 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game. It was his best season as a Card highlighted by a few individual performances. None were bigger than when McMahon exploded for 24 points in a win against 9th ranked and future Final Four participant Michigan State at home. McMahon scored in double figures eight times last season after only doing so seven times in the previous two years. He was one of the most valuable free throw shooters in the nation (57-60; 95.0 percent), getting to the line last year more than he did in his first two seasons combined.
So how does Ryan McMahon fit into this team? His increased role over the past two years has been in part by necessity, but given his importance to the team in those seasons it would be surprising if he was not a contributor to this team as a senior, despite the deep roster. McMahon has proven he can get to the rim at times, but his most valuable asset continues to clearly be his three point shooting. Every team needs a knock down shooter, and Chris Mack made a point to use McMahon as that. In his first year, Mack utilized his shooting ability and frequently called plays to get him open.
Last season was actually his worst percentage wise, however. He shot 35.3 percent from behind the arc on a career high 150 attempts. For a team that struggled at times to consistently produce on offense outside of Jordan Nwora, McMahon’s ability to get hot and score in spurts was invaluable last season. There was plenty of occasions where the rest of the team was struggling and Ryan had to make a shot to get his team out of an extended offensive drought. He shot the second most three pointers on the team behind Nwora last year. The backcourt as a whole was not the most threatening from deep, so it was easier at times for opposing defenses to defend him last season.
This season, expect the team to be much more well rounded offensively. This could mean a big year from Ryan McMahon. He has only gotten better and stronger throughout his tenure at Louisville. He has improved tremendously as a shot creator in the half court. McMahon is not going to be the most consistent player out there, but he is someone who can single handedly change a game within minutes. in 2019-2020, he won’t have to be a primary scorer or ball handler. He won’t need to be relied on to ignite a stagnant offense as often as he did last year. There aren’t many teams in the nation who wouldn’t love to have a guy like Ryan McMahon on the roster.