University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and his staff wanted to make sure the Cardinals' backcourt was set for a few years.
So, the class of 2013 is loaded with guards.
The Cardinals announced a four-player class, plus one local walk-on, on Wednesday that is ranked No. 8 nationally by Scout.com.
Northwest Florida College point guard Chris Jones and Chatham, Va., Hargrave Academy guard Anton Gill and Terry Rozier are all in the class. The Cardinals also signed Omaha, Neb., Central High School center Akoy Agau.
North Oldham sharpshooter David Levitch is the local walk-on. Pitino also noted Mangok Mathiang, who was ruled ineligible this season by the NCAA but is still allowed to practice with the team, is also a member of the class.
"We needed to sure up certain aspects of our basketball team," Pitino said. "We have been relying the past couple of years on defense to win games. We felt scoring and shooting was the No. 1 thing we needed to go after in this class.
"We certainly did that. This entire class shoots the ball."
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels said the Cardinals "filled their needs" in the class. U of L also has a 2014 commitment in Ballard point guard Quentin Snider. Pitino can only talk about prospects when they sign letters-of-intent.
"This is a tremendous group that fits Louisville's needs," Daniels said. "Their backcourt additions will make an on-court impact right away. Jones, Gill and Rozier will provide Louisville with instant offense, but they also fit in with what Pitino wants to do in his press and on defense."
The 6-foot-9 Agau has helped Omaha Central to three straight state titles, averaging 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds and blocked 92 shots as a junior. He had one game last season when he had 16 points, 14 rebounds and 13 blocked shots.
"As soon as I saw Akoy, I immediately wanted to see him in a Louisville uniform," said Pitino. "He's a triple-threat guy — he scores, passes and handles it very well. He has a very high basketball IQ. He's won three straight high school championships and that's the type of player we look for: someone who is conditioned to win. We're very excited to have him."
Agau is a native of Sudan, who also lived in Egypt before coming to the U.S. in 2002. He speaks three languages and is a two-time All-State performer.
The 6-foot-4 Gill averaged 18.1 points and 6.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior last season at Raleigh, N.C., Ravenscroft High School before he transferred to Hargrave for his senior season.
"Anton is a very gifted athlete who we've known for quite some time," Pitino said.. "He shoots it and runs the floor extremely well. He's a left-hander who is good off the bounce and scores. We're thrilled to have him as a Cardinal."
Gill is ranked as the No. 28 player in the country by Scout.com.
Pitino called the 5-foot-10 Jones the "best backcourt player (prospect) in the country" and said he was one of the best point guards he had recruited.
A former signee with Tennessee out of high school, Jones averaged 18 points, 4.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game as a freshman last season at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla. He earned first team 2012 NCJAA All-America honors after leading Northwest Florida to a 32-2 record.
"He's as explosive a point guard at both ends of the floor as I've ever recruited," Pitino said. "He's a prolific scorer, tougher than nails, and is a big-time winner. I'm not sure what phase of his game is the best because he's a great passer, a great rebounder at 5-10, big-time steal guy, big-time scorer and wants to win as much as any player I've ever recruited. We needed to have a great one replace Peyton Siva and we have it in Chris Jones."
The top junior college player in the nation, Jones has averaged 28.3 points this season in leading Northwest Florida to a 4-0 record and the No. 2 ranking in the NJCAA national poll. He scored a career-high 38 points against Atlanta Metro last Saturday, connecting on 15-of-22 field goals while collecting six steals.
Pitino called Rozier, who signed with Louisville last season but didn't make it academically, a "top 20 recruit in the country." Rozier signed a financial aid agreement with U of L, since players can only sign one LOI.
Rozier is averaging 24.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.9 steals at Hargrave. He has averaged 36.7 points over the last three games, including pouring in a season-high 50 points in a loss to Louisburg College on Monday while adding 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in the game.
"Terry is someone we were counting on for this year, but needed a year in prep school," Pitino said. "He's an explosive scorer and athlete who plays two positions. He's a very good on-the-ball defender. We thought he was one of the best guards in the nation last year and is having an outstanding season at Hargrave."
Rozier averaged 25.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.7 steals as a senior in leading Shaker Heights to a 21-3 record, the Erie League Championship and a berth in the regionals for the first time since 2002.
The 6-foot-3 Levitch will be a non-scholarship player. He averaged 18.8 points, 4.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds as a junior in leading North Oldham. He connected on 42.3 percent of his three-point goals (66-of-156) last season.
"David shoots the ball well," he said. "As he gains more strength, like (current walk-on) Tim Henderson, he will be a great addition to Cardinal Basketball."
An All-Eighth Region selection last season, Levitch has already scored over 1,000 career points at North Oldham and will be the lone starter returning from a year ago. He was seventh in the state in free throw percentage last season, connecting on 81.7 percent from the line (151-of-185). He scored a career-high 37 points against Spencer County last season.