Pitino Talks Recruiting with ITV
University of Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino arrived in Teaneck, NJ Wednesday afternoon for the adidas ABCD Camp.
Pitino, who flew in from Indianapolis where he evaluated several prospects, including 6'9 Brian Johnson and 6'9 Mohamed Tangara, was in the Rothman Center all day and night on Wednesday watching the best talent in the adidas stable.
Pitino was a popular figure from the moment he walked in the gym, as several reporters from various media outlets swarmed the future Hall of Fame coach to pick his brain and get some comments for their stories.
Will Rajon Rondo be the
next to commit?
Coach Pitino arrived just in time to stand behind the basket at Court One to watch Rajon Rondo's game against nationally ranked point guard Jason Horton. Pitino, who sat next to Holy Cross Head Coach Ralph Willard and UofL Assistant Coach Kevin Willard during the night session, saw several UofL prospects in action, including Rondo, Telfair, Morris, Agnew, Holloway and several other talented prospects.
In between games, Coach Pitino was kind enough to spend a few minutes to discuss recruiting with ITV....
A question often asked by college basketball fans and recruiting junkies is whether it's harder for adidas schools like Louisville to recruit players that come through the Nike grassroots system and vice versa. Coach Pitino had some interesting thoughts on the subject and doesn't believe it's that big a factor with players.
"We're not an adidas school. I don't look at it that way in terms of recruiting. I look at that in terms of what shoes we wear as a University, not who we recruit. It has no bearing on recruits at all what shoes we wear," Pitino told ITV.
But is there pressure applied at these shoe company sponsored events for players to choose a college based on shoe affiliation?
"I think once they get away from the camp itself it goes back to where I want to go to school and not what shoe I wear," Pitino explained.
Another hot topic among UofL fans these days is Pitino's seeming penchant for showing interest in big men who carry extra and unneeded weight. Nazi Mohammad, James Lang, and most recently 6'9, 350 Aaron Agnew come to mind. Shortly after watching Agnew play on court two, ITV put the question to the coach.
How do you evaluate overweight big guys, coach?
"I love overweight big guys for the way we work. It's much better than having guys who need to gain weight. I love 'em.....It's very easy for people to lose weight. It's very difficult to get guys to put on weight [as opposed to gaining it]," Pitino explained.
And who is Pitino looking at when he attends the national shoe camps during the month of July? Is he primarily looking at rising seniors or is his focus on identifying underclassmen to recruit in future years?
"I'm sort of looking right now...I concentrate more on the guys we're recruiting going into the senior class and if the underclassmen are playing [in the same game], I evaluate them as well. But I'm mostly focused on the guys we're recruiting right now for the next class," Pitino said.
Finally, last month Coach Pitino told an audience at Huber Farm that recruiting for 2004 would be wrapped up by the end of July. Last night, assistant Kevin Willard had doubts about that and on Wednesday, Coach Pitino explained further his expectations for the class of 2004.
"I think we'll have one more player in the fold [by the end of July]. I think we'll have three of the five...Whether it's all wrapped up or not [by the end of July], I'm not sure."