The end of July is rapidly approaching and the month long string of high school shoe camps and AAU events will soon cease.
And with football season looming right around the corner, the focus by most will turn to the gridiron. However, ITV always has the pulse of the local hoops scene and as such, here's another jam packed installment of ITV's Basketball News and Notes.
Louisville Assistant Kevin Willard gets the globetrotter award and surely deserves commendation for his efforts on the recruiting trail. Last week, Willard traveled to Greece for one day to watch 6'10 David Burgess of Irvine, CA play in the Junior World Games then flew back to the states to continue the Cards recruiting efforts on home soil. Willard is scheduled to be in Las Vegas for the Big Time Tournament this week.
Speaking of Burgess, our understanding is that David's parents are quite enamored with the idea of their 6'10 son playing at Louisville and learning from Coach Pitino. Don't be surprised if Burgess's recruitment heats up later this summer. He's planning an official visit to UofL this fall and many believe the Cards and the UCLA Bruins are his top two schools.
Construction at Minardi Hall is progressing rapidly and when completed the new basketball dorm will be quite a recruiting tool for Coach Pitino and assistants. The interior drywall has been installed and the electric, water and air-conditioning are in working order. Most of the floor tiling and carpet have been layed and much of the furniture has been delivered. The two major areas needing completion appear to be the plumbing and the interior painting and touchups. The players living quarters combine two separate bedrooms with a common living area and each bedroom has it's own bathroom complete with high ceilings and fixtures for players comfort. There's also a large dining room and common area on the first floor and a picturesq double sided fireplace for cold winter nights.
Former Clemson Head Coach Larry Shyatt's name has come up in connection with the vacant assistant coaching position on Coach Pitino's staff. Shyatt resigned his position last March as the head man for the Tigers after five seasons and is considered one of the top coaches in the business. The native of Ohio, Shyatt has been an assistant or head coach at the Division One level for the past 27 years.UPDATEPublished reports on Wednesday indicate Shyatt has interviewed for the job on Coach Pitino's staff.
Who's playing the best basketball this summer of the returning players? Well, you'd have a hard time making a stronger case than what 6'2 Taquan Dean is in the Jersey Shore Summer League. Through the first four games he's averaging 34.5 with games of 40 and 41. And he's not playing against stiffs either. Dean is working hard to improve his ball handling and decision makings this summer in anticipation of seeing significant minutes at the point next season.
Climbing the rankings
How well did Terrance Farley perform at ABCD? Well enough that he'll probably make several national recruiting services Top 100 at the end of the summer. Farley, who hadn't had much exposure nationally prior to Teaneck, showed scouts his athleticism, hustle and potential at his first ABCD Camp two weeks ago. For his efforts, TheInsiders Dave Telep made special mention of his play, PrepStars.com ranked him the #50 senior in camp and the HoopScoop listed Farley as the #36 best player overall at ABCD. Translation...Coach Pitino wrapped up this unheralded, athletic center last winter without any type of recruiting battle before he had been discovered by the nation's most respected recruiting guru's. The Cards got a steal with Farley and he's just now beginning to realize his potential!
The NBA speculation has already started for 6'7 Donta Smith, who committed to the Cards in June. A late bloomer, Smith established himself as the nation's top JUCO talent at Rick Ball's camps in Indianapolis and Vincennes last week. Smith impressed all week and poured in 40 points during one game. However, we'd be very surprised if Donta doesn't end up at UofL before heading for the riches of the NBA. NBA scouts are a leery of selecting JUCO's in the first round of the draft after being burned in recent years by players like Kedrick Brown (2.5 career scoring average at Boston) and Qyntel Woods (2.4 ppg in 2003). Despite rumblings of the NBA following last week's strong performance at the Elite 80 JUCO Camp, we expect to see Donta Smith in a Cardinal uniform in 2004-05.
Talk to nearly any national recruiting guru and they'll tell you the same thing regarding Brian Johnson recruitment.....that he's a lock for North Carolina. While we don't question that Johnson has long dreamed of playing for the Heels, Roy Williams has a problem and might be running out time on this one. With only one current, available scholarship, Ole Roy appears intent on giving UNC's last ride to either Shaun Livingston or Daniel Gibson. Why the need to bring in a point guard? Simple, Ray Felton heads to the NBA after next season and the Heels have no one on the roster to run the team after his departure. And while Williams' interest in Johnson has been tacid, the Cardinals coaches have been trailing the 6'9 VA center everywhere he's been this month, following him from Indianapolis to Augusta. Johnson says he'll make an official visit to UofL early this fall and currently lists the Cards as co-favorites for his services. Stay tuned!