Peyton Siva is "Louisville basketball"

On Saturday, one of the most successful and popular University of Louisville basketball players in recent memory – Peyton Siva – will play his final home game. The Seattle native will go through Senior Day ceremonies before the 4 p.m. tip against Notre Dame in the KFC Yum! Center.

Peyton Siva's first introduction to the University of Louisville fan base came five years ago when he was named MVP of the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale after leading his Seattle Franklin team to the title.

Siva would smile as the crowd mobbed him after each game.

A star point guard with a sensational game and wide-eyed smile was a hit with the U of L fans and it hasn't slowed in five years. While at times he's been much maligned by the hardcore fans because of his up and down play, Siva is one of the more popular U of L players in recent memory.

Now, on Saturday the fans get to say goodbye.

Siva will play his final game at the KFC Yum! Center and go through pregame Senior Night festivities as the Cardinals meet Notre Dame at 4 p.m.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere," Siva said. "A lot of my family members are here. It's been a great time for me here at Louisville. It is my last game at the Yum Center and playing with some of these guys and for coach P at the Yum Center.

"It will be tough but I can't let the emotions get to me. We just have to take care of business and then after the game the tears can come out."

There's likely going to be a lot of tears shed for Siva. Even U of L coach Rick Pitino called this perhaps one of the "most emotional" Senior Nights that he's ever been through in his career. Mike Marra and Gorgui Dieng will also take part.

"Peyton is Louisville basketball," junior Luke Hancock said. "He's the person you want to put on the posters. He's such a great player and even better guy. Everybody loves Peyton. When you think of Louisville basketball, he's the guy in front.

"He's going to end his career on top, just like he should."

Pitino has often compared Siva with Florida coach Billy Donovan, who played for Pitino at Providence College. Pitino says the two are the best character players that he has coached during his long career.

"You always hear the term that someone is blessed. I know I've been blessed for four years with that young man," Pitino said. "Because of never showing up one day to work having a bad day, whether he's got the fever or the flu — whatever it may be — never showing up without a smile on his face.

"I find that young man truly, truly remarkable.

Pitino said there are many reasons to compare Siva to Donovan, the player who later came back and was an assistant under Pitino.

"Peyton is the only young man I will put in a class with Billy Donovan as a young man," Pitino said. "Like Billy he is very spiritual. He never has a bad day, never makes excuses. He's the most polite young man I have ever coached. Since I have had him he's never given me any troubles. He's a little more outgoing that Billy.

"But he doesn't have a character flaw. He takes five guys to Bible Study once a week. He's not an in-your-face guy. He's a leader by example."

Siva has also been a leader on the floor.

A former McDonald's All-American, Siva had 56 assists and 46 turnovers in 31 games as a freshman. But he has made huge strides every season.

Siva averaged 9.9 points as a sophomore and 9.1 points last season, while he's averaging 9.8 this season. His assist totals have been the difference with 182 as a sophomore, 211 last season and already 177 this campaign.

Siva needs six steals to pass Darrell Griffith (230) as the Cardinals' career leader. He's also second on the career assist chart, 87 behind LaBradford Smith (713).

"Peyton has really, really developed into a good point guard," Pitino said. "Everything we have put into it for four years has come through. I think he's the best point guard in college basketball. He's tremendous."

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