The Skinny

With needs in the frontcourt and at point guard, the recruiting efforts of U of L head coach Rick Pitino are about to shift focus to the class of 2005 to meet those needs. Who will he target during the AAU and camp circuit? Read the 'Skinny' and find out.

This much is evident following a disappointing end to Rick Pitino's third season at the University of Louisville.

The Cardinals need help inside the paint and at the point guard position.

Unfortunately for Pitino, the two players he recruited to fill those needs, 6'11 James Lang and 6'0 Sebastian Telfair will never play a second in a Louisville uniform.

Clearly the return of Ellis Myles, and the additions of 6'9 Brian Johnson, 6'7 Donta Smith, and 6'10 Terrance Farley will help the Cardinals fortunes upfront next season.

However, the loss of Telfair to the NBA will probably force junior-to-be Taquan Dean once again to play out of position next season instead of his natural shooting guard position. Neither Dean nor Brandon Jenkins are the drive and dish type that can break down defenses up the middle and create easy opportunities for their teammates, like Telfair can. 6'5 Lorrenzo Wade has point guard capabilities but probably isn't a permanent solution either.

So finding and successfully recruiting a top notch point guard becomes paramount for Pitino in the junior class. That's why we expect Pitino to hold the scholarship available for Tello Palacios should the 6'8 forward choose to play elsewhere.

With 7'0 Clarence Holloway already in the fold, Pitino would have three more scholarships to give next season should Palacios not sign with Louisville this spring. And that's probably the wisest course of action because there simply isn't anyone available in the current class that fills an immediate need for Louisville.

Sure Chris Lofton is a great shooter. But Louisville's needs inside and at the point guard position don't match with Lofton's strength's. In a world without the 5/8 rule, perhaps you give one to a player with Lofton's special talent. However, with limited scholarships and more pressing needs, don't expect Lofton's number to be called upon by Pitino.

As for the rising seniors, we know 6'7 Jamal Boykin is a major target for the Cardinals. 6'10 Brayden Bell is too. We also expect 6'7 Tasmin Mitchell, the nation's top junior prospect, to visit U of L this spring. 6'0 Byron Eaton is a possibility at the point and assistant Reggie Theus recently traveled to Dallas on a scouting mission. 6'4 Jose Garcia, 6'8 Uche Echefu and 6'9 Theo Davis remain options, too. Then there's probably a dozen or so others that Louisville also could easily get in the mix with during the spring and summer. And that list will certainly change and expand as the AAU season heats up next month.

Also, don't underestimate the importance of Pitino's next recruiting class. In all liklihood, the class of 2005 is Pitino's most critical at Louisville for several reasons, formost being his need to restock an already thin frontcourt.

Next season, Myles and 6'8 forward Otis George will depart the program, leaving Johnson, Holloway and Farley to fend for themselves. Should Francisco Garcia opt for the NBA after his junior season, Pitino would also need to find a capable and talented swingman to replace Garcia's all-around ability.

So if you're keeping score at home, and this is assuming Palacios heads elsewhere and Pitino elects to pocket the scholarship for use next season, expect a point guard, power forward and a swingman to join Clarence Holloway in the class of 2005.

Who the other three players will be should become evident in the next few months. Stay tuned. Recruiting season is upon us and things are about to heat up!

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