The regular season is rapidly approaching. Today, we preview Louisville’s own Dwayne Sutton. The 2019-2020 Louisville Cardinals are a team expected to be among the country’s elite. With Sutton, you know exactly what you’re getting on a night-to-night basis. He’s a hardworking, intense player who you cannot afford to leave off the floor for too long.
Over the past two seasons, Dwayne Sutton has grown into one of the most underrated and indispensable players in the entire nation. Entering his senior season, he has the opportunity to cement his legacy as a hometown hero on a Cardinal team that has its sights on Atlanta.
Class: Redshirt Senior
Hometown: Louisville, KY / Manual
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As a recruit, Dwayne Sutton had very few Division 1 offers. Despite incredible high school averages that helped him earn first team all-state honors as a senior, Sutton was undersized for a forward at the D-1 level. He ended up at UNC Asheville and quickly proved he was worthy. As a freshman in 2015-2016, Dwayne Sutton started every game and was a big contributor on a team that would eventually win the Big South conference tournament. Sutton exploded in the final, earning MVP honors after a 25 point and 18 rebound performance. He transferred after the season and chose his hometown team over a list of suitors.
He sat out a season and got back onto the court in 2017-2018 as a sophomore. Sutton was still a somewhat underrated transfer and no one knew how he would really fit into a power conference team. You heard good things, but what he became was more than what most expected. There was talk of him being a high energy guy who could come off the bench sparingly, providing energy when necessary. Sutton averaged 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 36 games, but really turned out to be one of the Cards’ most important players outside of the Deng Adel and Ray Spalding duo. The highlight of his season came on the road against Virginia Tech when he put up 17 points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes. It was his most confident performance offensively in a Cardinal uniform to date, and it really showed a glimpse of what he could become the following season.
Sutton started all 34 games as a junior, improving in almost every major statistical category. He averaged 10.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 31.4 minutes per game. Sutton was still the tenacious defender and rebounder that we saw the previous year, but he emerged as a reliable jump shooter and overall offensive player. Sutton shot 34.8 percent from three, which was slightly down from a year before but on 94 more attempts. He was the third leading scorer behind Jordan Nwora (17.0) and Christen Cunningham (10.1). Sutton was the glue that kept the Cards together during an up and down season that ultimately ended in disappointing fashion.
Coming into this season, its hard to envision Sutton being anything but a mainstay in the starting lineup if healthy. He’s the type of player that you hate to play against. He plays bigger than his size, is a menace defensively and makes multiple hustle plays every game. That’s on top of his improvement as a scorer at the power conference level.
Sutton’s value to this team is apparent. Much like last season, you can expect him to be an elite glue guy who does all of the little things on the floor. Louisville will have more scoring options this season. He may not be the second or even third most threatening offensive player on the court at times, but his improvement as a shooter will force opposing defenders to respect him from deep.
In Tuesday’s exhibition against Bellarmine, Sutton scored 18 points and secured 13 rebounds in the 10 point win. He stepped in and started at center with Malik Williams and Steven Enoch both out. At 6-5 its not ideal that he plays there, but he has flourished in small ball lineups over the last two seasons when the front court got into foul trouble. He can play multiple positions and will force his way onto the court regardless of how Coach Mack shapes the lineup this season.
Louisville has the ACC preseason player of the year. They added a promising recruiting class and a highly touted transfer to the roster. Its a deep team that is loaded with individual and highly rated talent. Sutton, a three-star recruit who transferred from UNC Asheville, ironically might be the most invaluable player on the team.