Louisville Men’s Basketball had only one commitment in 2021 until today. Head Coach Chris Mack was able to land the commitment of a newly minted 4 Star player named Bobby Pettiford Jr.
L’s UP!! LOUISVILLE WASSGOOD 🐔!! Ready to work 🏀 pic.twitter.com/HKwhGHFOhm— Bobby Pettiford Jr (@Dhoops0) June 10, 2020
Pettiford, a 6-foot-1 175 lbs PG out of Creedmoor, NC, chose the Cards over offers from Virginia Tech, Providence, and Ole Miss, among others. He is ranked as the 92nd best player in the class and the 13th best at his position of PG by 247sports. Dino Gaudio was the lead recruiter for Pettiford. He was originally a 3 Star player before a re-evaluation by recruiting analysts at 247sports shot him up the rankings.
Playing for South Granville High School, Pettiford had an excellent junior campaign. In 31 games for the Vikings, Pettiford averaged 21.8 points, 7.4 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2.9 steals per game. He shot 56% from the field, 30% from 3-point range, and 75% from the free throw stripe. Pettiford was able to be an effective weapon as a scorer, playmaker, and defender for South Granville.
BOBBY PETTIFORD HIGHLIGHTS
Pettiford is a two-way player as he contributes both offensively and defensively. Defensively, he uses his quick feet to keep his man in front of him which is the staple of Coach Chris Mack’s pack-line defense. Also a staple of Coach Mack’s defense is rebounding from all 5 players on the floor. Pettiford uses his athleticism and toughness to contribute in rebounding as evidenced by his 6 rebound a game average. Pettiford has quick hands and good instincts that will allow him to be able to get some steals as well.
Offensively, Pettiford is a PG you want to have the basketball in his hands. He’s a sure ball handler. It appears as if the basketball is on a string when he’s dribbling. He knows how to change pace with his dribble to break down defenses and get to the rim. He can weave his way through multiple defenders when working his way up the floor or attempting to get to the rim. He can dribble perfectly with either hand and can go to either his left or right, but often will look to drive to his right. He can finish with either hand, but prefers to finish with his right hand. However, he only goes to his right and his strong hand because, more often than not, he can. Make no mistake, if a defense tries to force him left, he will have no qualms going left and still doing damage.
His speed and quickness are reminiscent of the Rick Pitino days. Pettiford can quickly get from end to end, and beat the defense before they can get set. He knows how to push the pace and has the speed to do it. In the half court, he can see lanes to the basket and use his speed and quickness to beat defenders off the dribble, use that lane, and get to the rim.
Passing and court vision are maybe Pettiford’s best skills. I mention them both together because they go hand-in-hand. Pettiford sees the whole court well when he has the ball in his hands; seeing open men and all the passing angles. He can make long, quarter-court passes to bigs that beat the defense back. In the half court, he can drive and kick out to the corner or to the top of the key. He uses wrap around passes to bigs for dunks and layups when the big’s defender comes over to help. All his passes are precise and accurate. It helps his three-point specialists to get easy catch-and-shoots. When his bigs get deep position and/or seal their defenders, he delivers passes that allow them to make one move and score. From the top of the key, he can deliver passes, including those of the no-look variety, to hit cutters for buckets. In transition, he runs the break to perfection, drawing the defense and making simple, crisp passes for layups and dunks. I also love his bounce passes. He can deliver them from near half court on the break or while driving the lane on dump downs for his bigs to have easy finishes.
Pettiford can score at all three levels. He’s at his best attacking the rim. His athletic ability allows him to dunk frequently despite being just 6’1. His hops are incredible as Billy Packer might say. When he can’t dunk, Pettiford can finish with runners and a variety of odd angle layups at the rim. His toughness makes him a great finisher through contact. This will likely mean he should have quite a few and-1 opportunities. This is something I’m sure Coach Mack absolutely loves about Pettiford.
Pettiford can also hit mid-range pull-ups and fade-aways. His ability to get to the rim means defenders are already falling back as he drives. He uses this against them to stop on a dime and hit little 10-15 footers.
From the arc, Pettiford is adept at catching-and-shooting, step backs, and shooting off the dribble. His stroke is smooth; there isn’t any hitch, it’s just one, smooth motion. He shoots the ball with just a flick of the wrist. His feet and shoulders are always square to the basket. Once again, since he excels at attacking the rim off the dribble and can quickly accelerate from a stationary dribble to full speed, defenders have to play him for the drive. This means they play off of him a bit and are thinking about stopping his penetration. Pettiford uses this to lull them to sleep at the top of the arc or on the wings and will quickly get his shot off before they can really defend it. When shooting off the catch, he always has his hands ready to catch the pass and quickly transition into his shooting motion. It’s a transition that takes place in one smooth motion. He’s got a quick release. While he only shoots 30% from three, I think he can shoot a better percentage because his shot looks mechanically sound.
On offense, the 6’1 Pettiford is really explosive. Any great player or coach will tell you; speed is important, but what is just as important is being able to change speed and Pettiford does a great job changing speeds on defenders. Pettiford is a really great athlete with a quick first step, impressive leaping ability, and phenomenal end to end speed. A very explosive leaper, he can get up whether he’s attacking the rim on one foot or 2 feet. Pettiford gets nice elevation on his jumpshots, making it harder for the defense to block his shots.
Bobby Pettiford Jr has a nice jump shot, that could use a little tweak at the collegiate level. A nice consistent jumper coupled with Pettiford’s ability to get to the rim will give defenders fits. Pettiford is a score first guard, but he’ll be counted on to create for others a lot more at the collegiate level. He is a willing passer that has really nice court vision and a really good feel for the game.
Bobby Pettiford Jr has a really nice handle on the ball, he can tighten his handle a bit more once he gets on campus. Pettiford has a knack for breaking down his defender and getting into the lane with relative ease. Once he’s gotten into the lane, he uses his strong frame to absorb contact and finish strong with either hand. Having a guard or player that can win one on one battles is very important in basketball; see any FSU basketball game from last year. That won’t be a problem for Bobby Pettiford Jr.
What I really like about Bobby Pettiford Jr on offense is that he is tough minded and has an aggressive attitude with the ball in his hand. He is going to get to his spot whether you like it or not and force you to adjust to him. Pettiford also has a loud confidence about himself and brings a swagger to the game; a swagger that I hope once he gets on campus, can also be transferred to the defensive side of the ball.
Defensively, the coaching staff is going to have to stay on top of Pettiford. With his long arms, strong and athletic build he should be more of a defensive presence than he currently is. Although he averaged more than 6 rpg last year, he has the capability to be more disruptive and be a defensive force at the guard spot. As seen in his highlights, Pettiford can really clamp up an offensive player and disrupt an offense. Pettiford has a lot of the tools needed to be a deterrent on the defensive end of the floor. As I said earlier, the young man has a great feel for the game. Bobby moves his feet really well and has quick hands, but gives up on ball screen situations way too often. I have no doubt once Pettiford gets onto campus and around the team, he’ll be motivated to consistently utilize his God given gifts to be a defensive force; more consistently than he’s showed in so far in high school. All in all, Pettiford has the potential to be a stud for Chris Mack.
Pettiford is a PG that can do it all. He fills the stat sheet and contributes in a variety of ways. He can score, but he can run the offense and be a distributor. On defense, he has quick feet that allow him to stay in front of his man and active hands that allow him to disrupt passing lanes and get steals. When you want a player that will handle the ball late, not turn it over, and make smart decisions, Pettiford is that player. He has quickness like Pitino loved in his guards, but a toughness that Mack loves in his. Pettiford is definitely a starter and could become an All-ACC type of player. He has all the tools to be the next great Louisville PG, following in the steps of David Johnson, Peyton Siva, and Dejuan Wheat. Hopefully, he can do just that and join that pantheon.
With Bobby Pettiford’s commitment, Louisville now has 2 commits for the 2021 class. He joins 4 Star SF Bryce Hopkins of Chicago. Louisville’s 2021 class is now ranked 6th in the country and 2nd in the ACC according to 247sports.
*all stats courtesy of MaxPreps