Last week, Pitino travelled to Louisiana to see Jarrell Martin, a 6'7 junior forward who is considered one of the nation's Top 30 prospects. Two weeks ago, Pitino went to Vermont to watch 2013 big man Dominic Woodson before heading to North Carolina to see 6'6 junior forward Greg McClinton. The Cardinals are considered frontrunners for all three of those players.
"You have to do it, it's part of the game," Pitino said. "I probably go out more than most head coaches do because I like to evaluate. It's not that I don't trust (the assistants) evaluation but I want a certain type player. The mistakes I have made is when I don't go out and evaluate (players) work ethic enough."
Pitino, who has taken three programs to the Final Four, has seen many changes in recruiting during the past three decades. Pitino says the biggest recruiting change he's seen is "shoe company involvement" in the recruiting process. Pitino said he believes shoe companies like Nike heavily influence which schools recruits choose today.
At this point, Pitino will add just one recruit next season - point guard Terry Rozier, a four-star, Top 100 prospect from Cleveland. The Cardinals will also add George Mason transfer Luke Hancock, whom Pitino has called his team's "best player." While his 2012 class is small, 2013 will be an important recruiting class for Pitino's program.
"We're looking not at next year's class because we only need one player next year, but we have to bring in three quality players the following year," Pitino said. "It's a big part of your future."
Besides Martin, McClinton and Woodson, Louisville is also actively recruiting several other '13 standouts, including Moses Kingsley, a 6'9 from Mississippi who visited the Cardinals this weekend. Louisville already has a verbal commitment from '13 shooting guard Anton Gill, a Top 40 prospect, and are involved with point guards Tyler Ennis and Zach Lavine.
"We're really concentrating on finding people who shoot the ball really well," Pitino said. "We've got enough good athletes in our program. We're looking for people who can shoot the basketball."
While some programs nationally, most notably Kentucky, focus on landing so-called one-and-done recruits, Pitino's approach the last few years has been to take a longer term approach in recruiting.
"With us it's developing guys like guys like Angel Nunez and Zach Price," Pitino said. "A guy like Angel is really going to blossom some day into a very good scorer. We've just got to work on the other facets of the game with him. He needs to add strength more than anything else."
That recruiting approach of finding players who still need to develop their games before being considered NBA prospects is why Pitino says finding players who are willing to work hard on their skills is so important.
"Peyton Siva and Angel live in the gym because they want to be great shooters and scorers," Pitino said. "Angel loves to shoot the basketball. He's got a terrific stroke. He's gotten better and better, and his defense is getting better. He still has to improve his passing. He's never really played organized basketball. He's a very raw product."