Can Pitino take six recruits?

<b>SPECULATIVE ANALYSIS</b> -- The 5/8 rule in college basketball limits the number of recruits a program can sign to letters of intent during a two year period. But is there a way Louisville can take more than the limit? ITV certainly thinks so and provides a possible road map to do it.

The 5/8 rule in college basketball limits the number of recruits a program can sign to letters of intent during a two year period.

Under the rule, college coaches can sign no more than five scholarship athletes in any given year and no more than eight athletes during any two year period.

With 6'10 Terrance Farley, 6'9 Brian Johnson, 6'7 Donta Smith and 6'5 Lorenzo Wade, Coach Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals already have four talented prospects committed for next year.

Not a problem?

Well, consider this. Sebastian Telfair is a certain lock to pick the Cardinals and 6'10 David Burgess makes an official visit to the Louisville campus this weekend.

David Burgess
Indications are that the Cards will offer Burgess and the native Californian appears ready to accept the offer. Provided the four previous commitments stay intact (and there's no reason to assume otherwise at this juncture), Telfair and Burgess would push Coach Pitino's 2004 recruiting haul one over the current limit.

And there's the problem. Or is it?

There appears a seemingly simple solution and the model to follow might be Duke's recruiting class of Sheldon Williams, Shavlik Randolph, Michael Thompson, J.J. Reddick, Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni.

Don't recount. Duke in fact took six players last year. How did they accomplish that?

Simple. Five prospects signed national letters of intent and Melchionni walked on last season before receiving a scholarship for his sophomore campaign this season.

So how do Pitino and Louisville work the numbers this time around?

Terrance Farley
The answer could lie on local product Terrance Farley's willingness to join the program next fall as a non-scholarship athlete…in a similar fashion to Melchionni at Duke.

If that happened, the Cards six man class would meet the NCAA's 5/8 requirement and likely rank as the top recruiting class in the nation.

Projecting future rosters, it appears important that Farley join the Cards next fall because of Louisville's thin numbers in the frontcourt after Ellis Myles, Otis George, Nouha Diakite and Nate Daniels graduate after next season. And the number of frontcourt players departing could increase if Burgess takes leave on an expected Morman mission following his freshman season.

And while Farley wouldn't be on scholarship next year under this scenario, his presence and ability to learn the system and to get a taste of basketball at the highest level would greatly benefit both player and team as the only projected interior players for 2005-06 are Brian Johnson, Donta Smith and the signees from the class of 2005.

The downside to this plan?

By bringing Farley in as a non-scholarship athlete in 2004-05 and then giving him a scholarship the following season would limit Pitino to signing just two scholarship athletes from the current junior class (2005).

But the problem could work itself out any number of ways. If Telfair decided to pursue the NBA option after graduating from high school, the problem would be solved immediately, though no U of L fan would be excited about that possibility.

Regardless, Louisville already has secured verbal commitments from four talented prospects and the coaches appear to have many options at their disposal to round out what is shaping up to be one of the nation's best classes this season.

Is this scenario possible? Could this be the road map to beating the 5/8 recruiting rule?

One thing is certain. It's a proven recipe that worked for the Duke Blue Devils just one year ago!

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