Apparently, he was again signaling potential replacements that his program will have an available scholarship to offer this spring.
And just two days after making those statements, the cat escaped the bag. Obviously, we're talking about 6-foot-6 point guard Churchill Odia of Montrose Christian Academy in Rockville, Maryland.
Odia, who verbally committed to Xavier University last October but didn't sign a binding national letter of intent with the Muskateers, is apparently on the market and seeking a different fit. Though there's been some debate whether or not Odia actually signed an LOI, it's clear he did not. Plus, it's common knowledge that Montrose Christian head coach Stu Vetter advises all of his players not to sign early in case of coaching changes and the like. Still, word out of the Montrose camp is that Odia will honor his verbal commitment. However, it's clear the player and those around him have other ideas.
Word on the street is that Odia's representative has recently contacted both Louisville and North Carolina informing each school that the talented guard is interested in both programs.
The lean, yet talented guard, missed most of his senior season due to injury, but performed well for the International team last weekend at the Nike Hoop Summit in San Antonio, TX with Louisville assistants Reggie Theus and Vince Taylor looking on. And though his stock slipped during the regular season, he's clearly one of the top prospects in the country.
Inside The Ville saw Odia in action last May at Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions and came away impressed. It's clear his jump shot has improved since then but what makes him such an intriquing prospect is his combination of size and skills. He's a legit point guard and could develop into a defensive force with his long arms and athleticism. Plus, he's tremendous in the open court and has excellent vision and passing skills.
And the situation at Louisville appears ready-made for Odia. Not only does Pitino's style fit Odia's skills perfectly, there's immediate need and opportunity for significant early playing time. Plus, Odia's presence would allow Taquan Dean to move back to his natural position at shooting guard. A win-win situation for all involved.
On the surface, the North Carolina situation doesn't appear as accomodating as Louisville's. First, UNC probably will return Ray Felton at the point. With senior point guard Melvin Scott returning and signee Quentin Thomas added to the the mix, the Tar Heel point guard rotation already appears crowded.
And with the Derek Anderson Derby Festival Basketball Classic rosters expected to be released today, it will be interesting to see if Odia's name is included on that list.
Stay tuned...this could be an interesting situation during the next few weeks.
With the Odia situation clearly on the front burner, the class of 2005 is beginning to take shape.
Should Odia sign with the Cardinals this spring, under the current 5/8 rule Pitino and company would have just two remaining grants to extend to the class of 2005. With 7-foot Clarence Holloway already in the bag, that would leave room for just two more prospects to join the fold.
Will Millard be the
next junior to commit
to the University
Millard, who fits the Francisco Garcia mold and could prove an ideal replacement for U of L's talented forward should he enter the NBA Draft following the 2004-05 season, is a skilled prospect with outstanding ability to shoot the basketball.
If you're keeping score at home, expect an official visit from Millard this spring and don't be surpised if he's the next player to cast his lot with Pitino's program.
And that's especially interesting considering the Cardinals are considered one of the frontrunners for 6'7 Brandon Rush of Mount Zion Christian Academy. However, Inside The Ville spoke with Mount Zion head coach Tony Fozard last week who indicated that college coaches are paying virtually no attention to his prospect because most beleive he'll enter his name in next years NBA Draft.
Also of note last week, Pitino made what appears an important visit to 6'7 forward Jamal Boykin. Though it's our understanding that Louisville hasn't offered a scholarship, that may change shortly after Boykin's excellent showing in the desert, just yet to the talented Westchester (CA) High School product, it's clear there's sincere interest from Louisville in this "tweener."
Speaking of Boykin, he led Belmont Shore to the Gold Bracket championship this weekend at the Las Vegas Easter Classic, scoring 25 points in the finals against the Utah Vipers. Both Pitino and Theus were in Vegas keeping tabs on Boykin over the weekend.
What will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks is how quickly Louisville moves with Boykin, especially considering they're near the top of both 6'9 Theo Davis' and Brayden Bell's lists. The Cardinals have solid connections with Davis and have long been solid with Bell.
There's sure to be much more happening on the recruiting front in the coming days but until then, that's this week's 'skinny.'