The Skinny

University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is getting it done on the recruiting trail and we'll explain why the Cardinals are the hottest program in the country right now!

Let's make one thing clear from the outset.

University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino IS the most powerful force on the recruiting trail right now.

You may debate that point if you wish, but when you're the head coach of the program on the verge of landing two of the top three unsigned prospects in the senior class nationally, you are hot! Smoking hot!

Let's start with 6'8 Tello Palacios. By most accounts, he's coming to Louisville. Sources close to the player at the Kingwood Classic confirm that. Actions by those associated with the other finalists, Flordia State and Baylor, indicate it to be so. And those close to the situation on the Cardinals end are say the same. Expect it to get done later this week.

Palacios, perhaps the top unsigned prospect in his class, would give Pitino the player he's worked so hard to land for more than a year. And, if you've seen Palacios in action, you know why Pitino wanted this versatile and skilled young prospect.

Simply, he can do it all. He gives Pitino another Jamal Mashburn type to work with and mold into a deadly matchup at either forward position. Palacios can score, pass and handle the ball. Once he learns to play defense and rebound, watch out!

But Palacios is just the beginning of what was a busy and productive week for Pitino.

6'6 point guard Churchill Odia, who participated in the Derek Anderson Derby Festival Classic, visited U of L while in town and left with Louisville at the top of his list.

Odia, in no uncertain terms, told Inside The Ville that the Cardinals were definitely the leaders to land his services. One of the top three unsigned seniors in the nation, Odia will announce his decision sometime next month provided his visa situation gets ironed out.

And should Louisville land both Palacios and Odia in the near future, not only would Pitino have the number one ranked recruiting class in the nation by all accounts, he'd also have, at worst, the second best recruiting haul of the spring signing period.

If that weren't exciting enough, the U of L head coach has positioned the Cardinals extemely well with many of the nation's top juniors as well.

After an impressive visit with Pitino a week ago, 6'10 center Brayden Bell of Salt Lake City, Utah told ITV that Louisville topped his current list, too. Schools like UCLA, Gonzaga, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona also are showing plenty of interest.

Bell, who plays well facing the basket, is rated one of the two best center prospects in the nation. He indicated that he'll likely make an official visit to U of L in June.

And Pitino has plenty of options should he need them. Louisville is a co-leader along with national runner-up Georgia Tech for 6'7 Jamal Boykin. Boykin, who has been impressive in AAU action this month, brings toughness and a winning mentality to the court.

On the wing, Chad Millard's top four consists of the Cardinals, Kansas, Missouri and N.C. State. Millard played well at the talent-laden Kingwood Classic over the weekend and told ITV last week that he'll make a visit to Louisville next month. At 6-foot-8, Millard is an excellent shooter and can also put it on the floor and make things happen going to the basket.

6'5 shooter David Huertas lists Louisville in his top three along with Kansas and Arizona. Huertas, who met with Pitino last week, told ITV that he's very interested in U of L and likes the idea of playing for Pitino. Huertas' AAU coach, Art Alvarez says the Cards will definitely receive a visit, probably in the very near future.

What's all this mean?

It means Louisville, thanks to the tireless efforts of Pitino and company, is back! Final fours and national championships are determined on the recruiting trail and nobody's hotter these days than the Ville in that respect.

Until next week, that's this week's 'Skinny'.


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