The 6-foot-10 Jennings declared for the NBA Draft last week, but didn't hire an agent, meaning he could return to Louisville next season if he withdraws his name from the draft by the May 8 deadline.
But Pitino said Tuesday that he's planning for next season as though Jennings will stay in the draft, by-passing his senior season at Louisville in the process.
"He's going to put his hat in the ring," Pitino said. "After Samardo Samuels I always plan that these guys are not coming back. We are very strong at that position and my thinking is he's not coming back. That's the way I'm looking at it."
Pitino said he, "emailed every NBA general manager and player personnel director [on Jennings' behalf] telling them if they're interested to contact me." Jennings started 23 games last season, averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. He also blocked a team-high 65 shots.
If Jennings stays in the draft, Pitino will rely on sophomore Gorgui Dieng and freshman Zach Price at center next season. Tony Woods, a 6-foot-11 transfer from Wake Forest, attended classes at Jefferson CC this semester in Louisville, and was expected to play for the Cardinals before Tim Fuller departed for Missouri. Woods remains an option for the Cardinals, but his former AAU coach told InsideTheVille.com last week that his former player plans to consider other options.
"We've got two outstanding five men in Gorgui Dieng and Zach Price so we're fine with that and if another young man wants to come and join us we're fine with that," Pitino said.