Any time there is a roster change after a season, it causes us to think about how it will affect next year’s team. Darius Perry announced on Monday that he would be transferring from Louisville for his final year of eligibility. Darius tweeted his announcement at 8:38 PM and I am willing to bet he got a text from a former UL coach (that now has a new job) at 8:39. I hope Darius finds a spot that will allow him to show the potential that we saw for three years and we wish him nothing but the best.
Back to next year’s team. I see two options for what Perry’s transfer means for the 20-21 Cardinals:
- We are in serious trouble
- We are in a great spot
Pretty obvious, right? Let’s dive into these options and see why next season could go to either extreme.
- We are in serious trouble
Let’s get the pessimistic outlook out of the way. With Perry gone, Louisville currently has two scholarship guards on the roster. David Johnson and Josh Nickelberry will be relied on heavily no matter what happens, but in a worst case scenario, they could be your only two guards. If Jay Scrubb decides to go pro and we don’t get any grad transfers, we could be looking at walk-ons as backups.
The grad transfer market for guards is very thin as of right now. On top of that, there aren’t many uncommitted guards in the 2020 class. There is one uncommitted 2020 shooting guard that Louisville offered, according to 247 Sports. That player was Jayden Stone, a 3-star player from Kansas. Louisville could reach back out, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
In our worst case scenario here, Louisville gets no grad-transfers, no new 2020 commits and no Jay Scrubb. What does that leave us with? A potential starting lineup of Johnson, Nickelberry, Williamson, Slazinski (or Withers) and Williams. That’s not a bad lineup, depending on what you get from unproven Nickelberry & Slazinski/Withers. The reserve situation is much more questionable. We already established that in this scenario there are no back up guards, 3 backup forwards (Withers or Slazinski, Freshmen D’Andre Davis and JJ Traynor) and 1 backup center (Igiehon).
To me, this is an undesirable situation, with a ton of weight on the shoulders of players with minimal experience. One move I could see Mack making to compensate for this thin roster is moving Williamson to the 2 guard and having Withers and Slazinski start together. In that situation, your backups would be 2 freshmen and 2 sophmores who didn’t play much last year.
I want to put in the caveat that I don’t think this will happen and many things can change over the next several months. But, we need to prepare for the fact that something like this could be a reality.
2. We are in a great spot
The optimistic point of view sees a team that has a chance to compete for a championship. One reason for Darius to transfer is he saw the writing on the wall in terms of his playing time next year. Hypothetically, if Darius was told that Jay Scrubb was definitely coming to Louisville and that a grad-transfer was on the way, he would have a good reason to leave.
So, in this scenario, Jay Scrubb is at Louisville for next season and we get at least 1 grad transfer guard. Who is the grad-transfer guard? There aren’t many options at this point, but we are still early. One option is Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken. He averaged 16 points this season, which was cut short by injury. To my knowledge, Louisville has not reached out, but he would bring shooting and some experiece to next year’s team. Louisville has also reached out to other grad-transfers at other positions, such as Kevin Marfo from Quinnipiac.
So, let’s assume Scrubb does come to Louisville, the Cards get a grad-transfer guard and at least one other grad-transfer at another position. The starters for this team could be Johnson, Scrubb, Williamson, Grad-Transfer forward and Williams. This is a scary team, whose shortest player would by 6’5″. Off the bench you would have the grad-transfer guard, Nickelberry, Igiehon, Slazinski, Withers, Davis and Traynor. This team is much deeper, even though the depth does not have much experience.
This team would have a ton a variability with Scrubb able to play 3 positions, Williamson able to play 3 positions and several different options in terms of play style. Several things have to fall into place for this situation to come true, but this is an ideal outcome considering the situation Louisville is currently in.