Pitino announced a talented four-man 2011 recruiting class last week that ranks as high as No. 2 nationally. That class, though, has never witnessed Louisville play a regular-season game at the spectacular KFC Yum! Center downtown. In fact, when Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, Zach Price and Angel Nunez were going through the recruiting process, the arena was still under construction.
Now completed, Pitino believes the allure of playing in the new arena will help the Cardinals land a bunch of future stars.
"We had a very good recruiting season this year, but this place is going to pay huge dividends for us in the recruiting area," Pitino said. "We haven't used this place, it hasn't been a major factor yet. But it will be down the road."
Three of the four members of Pitino's 2011 recruiting class are expected to attend Louisville's season opener at the KFC Yum! Center Tuesday night against Butler. Local product Zach Price, a 6-foot-10 center from Jeffersontown, Bowling Green forward Chane Behanan, and Chicago shooting guard Wayne Blackshear all are supposed to watch Louisville's first official game in the new arena.
The Cardinals also reportedly will host five-star junior guard Gary Harris from Fishers, Indiana. Harris, who also is strongly considering Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State, made an unofficial visit to Louisville earlier this month. Harris, a strong 6-4, 200-pound prospect, is being recruited by Louisville assistant Tim Fuller.
And that's not all. Though they won't be in the arena tonight, Rodney Purvis and Shabazz Muhammad, a pair of five-star 2012 prospects, are expected to visit Louisville this weekend, according to Purvis' Twitter account.
Fuller, who has strong recruiting ties in North Carolina, is making a strong push for Purvis, who hails from Raleigh. Purvis, 6-2, 175, is considered one of the top point guards in the nation and is also being recruited by Duke, Kentucky, Xavier, North Carolina and Wake Forest.
Muhammad, the No. 1-rated small forward nationally, is considering Louisville, North Carolina, Duke, Memphis,Texas, and UNLV. "I...want to get down to Louisville because I heard they have a new arena and I want to check that out," Muhammad told Scout.com in October.
Louisville hosts Jackson State Saturday and Chattanooga Monday night. Purvis said he'll be in town for both games.