Hancock the 'most important player' for Cards

NEW YORK – Peyton Siva was named Big East Preseason Player of the Year, while the league also honored Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan. But it was another player that coach Rick Pitino said would be the key to the Cardinals this season.

Luke Hancock has never played a game for the University of Louisville basketball team, sitting out last season after a transfer from George Mason.

But U of L coach Rick Pitino gave him some high praise when he named Hancock a co-captain with Big East Preseason Player of the Year Peyton Siva.

On Wednesday at Big East Media Day, Pitino called Hancock the "most important player on our team." The 6-foot-6 junior is recovering from shoulder surgery and expected to be a major contributor for the Cardinals.

"We had a major void and Luke is the guy who will fill it," Pitino said. "He's something that we need desperately. He's going to be able to knock down the outside shot and he's going to be great defensively."

Hancock, who played in last week's scrimmage but said he still isn't 100 percent after the surgery, started 35 games and scored 64 points in two years at George Mason before he opted to transfer.

"We got lucky to get him," Pitino said, noting Hancock was also looking at Virginia but had played for assistant Kevin Keatts in prep school.

In the first scrimmage, Hancock had seven points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists in 27 minutes. He played on the losing White team.

"He's not a young kid, he's been through it before," Pitino said. "I called Jim Larranaga (who coached him at George Mason) and he said if you need a guy to take the ball out of bounds late in the game, if you need a guy to take a big shot or get a big rebound that Luke is the guy. He said he's a big-time gamer.

"He's a big-time addition for us. And he'll be fine (with his shoulder). He's ahead of schedule and getting better all the time."

U of L has another Red-White scrimmage on Sunday at 4 p.m.


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