'Goodluck' has no favorites; likes the Cards

INDIANAPOLIS - University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was front and center on Thursday morning, recruiting one of the school's top targets in the Class of 2014. Pitino and assistant Mike Balado were watching Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-foot-9 center who chatted with Cardinal Authority after the game.

Wilbraham (MA) Wilbraham & Monson Academy center Goodluck Okonoboh, a top prospect in the Class of 2014, admits he doesn't have any favorites in the recruiting process, which has blown up in recent weeks.

But the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Okonoboh confirmed one of the schools he "talks with the most" is the University of Louisville.

U of L coach Rick Pitino and assistant Mike Balado were front and center on Thursday morning as Okonoboh had a triple-double to lead his Mass Rivals team past Indiana Elite in the adidas Invitational.

"No favorites," he said. "I am just really waiting until after the summer to sit down with my family. Right now, I am just focusing on getting better and not trying to worry about schools. Everybody recruiting me now is my favorite.

"I am not really wanting to settle for anyone now."

Pitino, Indiana coach Tom Crean and Duke coach Mike Krzyewski were among dozens of coaches in attendance for the game.

"I am just blessed to get all of this attention at the end of the day," he said. "It may be frustrating at times but I just have to look at it like some people would literally die for this, so I have to remember that."

Okonoboh, who played with Nerlens Noel in high school said he's "best of friends" with the former Kentucky star and top NBA draft pick, noting that Kentucky is in the mix but hasn't offered him a scholarship.

"He won't be a big influence," he said of Noel.

Okonoboh is the No. 37 player in the class and the No. 5 center said the interest from U of L started in the last month or so. The Cardinals have three guards committed to the class and are trying to add a couple of big men.

Talking to a throng of media after the game, Okonoboh said he talks "all the time" with U of L assistant coach Kevin Keatts and called coach Pitino a "great coach, one of the best in the game."

"How I run the floor as a big man and just my potential," Okonoboh said. "Just how they play and the style. I think I would fit in pretty well, hard basketball and running the court. They like playing up and down.

"I am a family guy and Louisville is like a family school."

During the LeBron James Skills Academy last weekend in Las Vegas, Okonoboh said U of L commits Quentin Snider, Shaqquan Aaron and JaQuan Lyle were all trying to recruit him to the Cardinals' program.

"Those are all my guys," he said.

Okonoboh dismissed the internet rumors that Indiana is his heavy favorite but said "I have no clue where that comes from."

"I have no favorites, none," he said. "I guess one guy just wanted to put me as having a favorite. Some people just like controversy."

While he has no favorites, Okonoboh clearly has U of L on his list and "has a great respect" for Pitino and the program.

"Coach Pitino cares about his guys and pushes them," he said. "He knows what you are capable of and is there even if you have a bad game."

Okonoboh said he "laughed for like 30 minutes" when he saw the story that Pitino got a tattoo on his shoulder after his team won the NCAA title.

"That just shows, he bleeds Louisville," he said. "I like that."


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