It's prime basketball recruiting time.
Per NCAA rules, the University of Louisville coaching staff - like all other Division I schools - will hit the road on Wednesday for the first of three, four-day evaluation periods.
The Cardinals are without a commitment in the Class of 2015 and coach Rick Pitino and his three assistant coaches will be all over the country for the next three weeks trying to land a few prospects in '15 and looking at '16 and '17.
Cardinal Authority brings you five storylines to watch this month:
1. Who is the prime target(s)? I think it's pretty safe to say Deng Adel and Antonio Blakeney are tops on the list, but after that it could be a bunch of different guys. Don't be shocked to see Stephen Zimmerman get a ton of attention from the staff, while Dwayne Bacon could be a wild card. It will be interesting - and pretty telling - to see where Rick Pitino begins the evaluation period and what prospect he see first. I have a hunch it won't be one of the top guys, but perhaps a player or two that will make a huge first impression this weekend. We'll keep you posted on where coach P is all week.
2. Any off the radar trips? Many of the top prospects are in Chicago (adidas), Las Vegas (Nike) or Philadelphia (Reebok) this weekend but there are a few guys in smaller events. How bad do the Cardinals want Ray Spalding? Well, maybe we shall see because he's in Indianapolis where the staff likely won't attend - except maybe to see him play? Eli Wright and Eric Hester are two '16 prospects playing in Atlanta this week. Any trips away from the big three will mean the staff is serious about somebody.
3. Who will rise to the top of the '16 list? The Cardinals have about 20 '15 prospects still on the list but the main guys have been sorted out. But that's not the case with the '16 class where the staff could be watching as many as 30-35 prospects in the coming week from the '16 class and it will be interesting to see what prospects forge to the front? Will it be guards like Hester? Payton Pritchard? or Dennis Smith? or guys like DeRon Davis? Zach Collins? Jayson Tatum or Tyus Battle? Plenty of options and plenty of early legwork laid by the staff on many prospects.
4. The Kenny Johnson factor: Kenny Johnson has been on the job for three months now and a number of prospects he's targeted have either visited campus or want to visit soon. It will be his first summer in the U of L gear and his affect on recruiting should continue to grow. He's a stud on the recruiting trail and putting him with Mike Balado and Wyking Jones appears to be a major hit for the U of L program.
5. A new rule the coaches love: For the first time, the NCAA is allowing all four coaches on staff to be on the road at the same time. It had been that only three could be out at the same time, making someone traveling but waiting to go into a gym until another guy - across the country - stepped out of a gym. It was a crazy rule but now all four can be out at the same time and it's really going to help out the evaluation process. It's another 20 hours that eyes can be on a prospect. Expect to see coach Pitino and all three assistant coaches out every day of this period in as many as six states.
Cardinal Authority will keep you posted on the happenings of the staff all week.