Meet the Florida youngsters U of L offered

LAS VEGAS – New University of Louisville assistant coach Mike Balado came to Rick Pitino's staff after a sting at Florida International under Richard Pitino. Balado has a lot of ties to the Sunshine State, which is why the Cardinals were among the first schools to get involved with three elite 2016 prospects from Florida.

The University of Louisville basketball staff spent last week evaluating the six Class of 2014 targets and three commitments who were playing in Las Vegas.

But the staff also checked out some young prospects.

Assistant coach Mike Balado was a regular at games where Team Breakdown 15s were playing because the team has three elite 2016 prospects.

And because of Balado's ties to the state of Florida, the Cardinals were among the first to get involved with all three prospects. Team Breakdown coach Jordan Fair said U of L has offered 6-foot-10 Juwan Durham, 6-9 Dewan Huell and 6-3 guard Eric Hester off the same AAU team.

Durham, who attends Tampa Prep, said he has offers from U of L, Indiana, Florida, Florida State and South Florida. He is likely to pick up a bunch more after a strong showing in the Fab 48 tournament.

"I just take it day by day but it's fun," said Durham, who is 15. "It's been a great summer. I had two great grandfathers who were over 7-foot, so people tell me I am going to get taller. I don't know."

"But I can't worry about anything but myself. I feel like I am a lot better. I have gotten a lot more comfortable with myself and with my jump shot. I still need to get stronger but hopefully that will come."

Balado has been tracking Durham the longest and offered the potential top 50 prospect a few weeks ago.

"I know Louisville knows how to train their big men so well," Durham said. "And obviously, the won the national championship."

Huell, who appears to be about an inch shorter than Durham, plays his high school basketball at Miami Norland. He said he has offers from U of L, Florida State, Miami, Fla., Florida, South Carolina and a bunch of others showing interest.

"I try not to think about that," he said. "I still have a long way to go. I've always been tall and I just need to keep working hard to get where I want to go. It's been fun with the attention and the colleges, but I'm focused."

Hester, who plays high school ball for Fair at Tampa, Fla., Oldsmar Christian, said he has been "spending a lot of time in the gym."

"I knew I needed to get better and I think I have improved a lot," Hester said. "I've spent a lot of time in the gym with Jordan, working on my game."

Hester, who is likely to grow a few more inches and is perhaps a two-guard in college, picked up offers after this weekend from U of L, Mississippi and South Florida and said he's heard from "a bunch" of other schools.

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