Surrounded by media in the University of Louisville locker room after a win over North Florida, freshman forward Ray Spalding was all smiles as his teammates were giving him grief as he answered questions.
"I don't mind the media," Spalding said with a laugh. "I'm just a little shy."
But as one of his teammates then pointed out, Spalding better get used to it. In his third career game for the Cardinals, the Trinity High School product had a major breakout performance.
Spalding was 8 of 10 from the field and finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots. He led the team with 12 of the Cardinals' 37 deflections in the 89-61 victory.
"We knew Ray would play, but we didn't expect 18 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two blocks," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "That was an incredible coming out party for him. His stamina was awesome."
Jaylen Johnson started and played the first four minutes before Pitino put in Spalding. He played 31 straight minutes and was taken out late when the Cardinals were ahead by 30 points.
"That stat line is pretty nice," Spalding said. "But I couldn't have done it without my teammates. I'm excited just to get the opportunity. When calls your jersey (number) you have to be ready."
Pitino called the game by Spalding "quite unusual" for a freshman.
"Every day in practice, Ray is the high man on deflections," Pitino said. "You know, you would like to get anywhere from five to seven or eight deflections from an individual player – that's a very active player. He had 12 today. Besides that stat line, he had 12 deflections today.
"From the way he gets in the passing lanes, his wingspan and his quickness -- it's truly incredible and I'm really proud of him. He had a great night, but you are right, he is a freshman. Just like the other guys, he is going to have his dips, but you see the talent of all of our freshman."
North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said he was impressed with Spalding prior to the game. Spalding had only logged 16 minutes in the first two games of the season for the Cardinals.
"Well, last night at scout (meeting), if you would've been there, as soon as his picture came up and as soon as we started talking about him, we said that his minutes aren't very high right now but in our opinion, he's the next great one," Driscoll said. "He's the next guy that you can tell coach has a great love for. We think (Quentin) Snider is the next guard that's going to lead them, but Spalding – he's long, active, knows how to play. He's got a great disposition about him and he's always in the right position. He's always got his hands up, so he's always tipping easily. The fact that he came in and did what he did, to say I'm shocked – I'm shocked on 31 minutes but again where does Deng Adel fit in this whole mix? Do you try to mix up some different guys, maybe go a little bit bigger or maybe get him more minutes with Deng? I don't know how bad his injury is, but it wasn't a shock because looking on film, we think he's the next guy."