D'Angelo Russell, the No. 1 shooting guard in the Class of 2014 according to Scout.com, admitted there was a time when he wasn't certain the University of Louisville basketball staff had him near the top of their recruiting list.
"When I moved down here, I wasn't sure where I was with them," said Russell, who has played two years at Montverde, Fla., Academy.
Russell doesn't have to wonder anymore.
The Cardinals won a national championship this month and have turned the heat up on his recruitment. The 6-foot-4 Russell reports the staff watched him each of the past two weekends, head coach Rick Pitino and assistant Kevin Keatts came to see him last week at his prep school and he chatted with Pitino on Monday night.
"Louisville is coming after me hard," Russell said. "Coach Pitino just keep telling me to ‘Think Louisville' and to ‘Come Back Home'."
A native of Louisville, Russell played his freshman season at Central High School before going to the prep school. He's ranked as the No. 11 player overall in the Scout.com national rankings for the '14 class.
"When Louisville came and visited last week, that really opened my eyes," Russell said. "Coach (Pitino) told me that he looks at me as the replacement for Luke Hancock. Those are big shoes to fill.
"It didn't make them ahead of any other schools or anything like that, but it just really opened my eyes as far as Louisville."
Russell said his recruitment is "wide open" and noted he has a few new schools that have jumped in the mix in recent weeks.
With interest from U of L, Indiana, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Kentucky, Memphis, Missouri, Georgetown, Michigan State, LSU, Nebraska and Ohio State, Russell said he recently picked up an offer from Florida and USC and said Georgetown has also jumped into the mix.
"I'm just taking it slow," he said. "I told my dad I wanted to narrow my list down soon. But a couple of schools have come out of nowhere.
"It's an accomplishment for me to get to this point, but I still have to keep improving and I have to make sure I make the right decision for me. I want to go where God gives me a sign that I need to go."
U of L has two commitments in the Class of 2014, including Russell's friend and former AAU teammate Quentin Snider of Ballard. Shaqquan Aaron of Seattle is also committed to the Cardinals.