Pitino: Two recruits might not show up next fall

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Thursday afternoon that two key members of his highly touted 2005 recruiting class likely won't be on campus next fall when school starts.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Thursday that two key members of his highly touted 2005 recruiting class likely won't be on campus next fall when school starts.

Pitino, whose Cardinals just completed a 33-5 season that ended last week with a 72-57 loss to eventual runner-up Illinois in the national semifinals in Saint Louis, Mo., also lost two key recruits from last year's recruiting class – Sebastian Telfair and Donta Smith.

"What freshmen show up you never know," said Pitino. "I don't expect everyone to show up."

One of the players not expected to matriculate is 6-9 Amir Johnson, a McDonald's All-American from Los Angeles, California. Johnson's situation shouldn't come as a surprise to Louisville fans who have heard for months about his possibility to jump straight to the pros.

"I haven't heard too much from Amir Johnson, so I don't know about that one," Pitino said with an uneasy laugh. "All the other guys are calling me constantly, but I don't hear much from him."


Despite scoring only one point in the
McDonald's All-American game, Johnson is
likely to enter the NBA Draft.

The other player, 7-0 Clarence Holloway, is more surprising. Considered a developing talent on the hardwood, Holloway is a borderline Top 100 player in his high school class. During his high school career, the Chicago native was plagued with injuries, not playing a full-season until this year. He averaged 15 points, and 10 rebounds, but the lack of an SAT score appears Holloway's biggest hurdle to playing for Pitino and Louisville next season.

"I think even a guy like Clarence is thinking about the (NBA)," Pitino said. "He didn't even make the All-Chicago team. But a lot of these kids right now are thinking about it because the 20 year-age limit is coming in."

For both players, but particularly in Johnson's case, the likely adoption by the NBA of an age-restriction combined with suspect academics appear the reasons they'll join Telfair and Smith as players who signed with Pitino but will never play for him at Louisville.

"I think it's a combination of both probably," said Pitino. "Right now, he and Clarence have not gotten their SAT/ACT (scores), and Clarence hasn't even taken it yet."

Still, Pitino thinks his program is strong enough to withstand the potential losses of both Johnson and Holloway.

"I don't want this to come across the wrong way," said Pitino. "We'd love to have (them), but we're still going to be a Top 20 basketball team with or without them. We'll never slip from that (level) ever again. We've still got great talent coming back to be a good team next year."

Faced with the possibility – if not the likelihood of losing two of his most promising recruits, Pitino indicated he's not looking to replace either Johnson or Holloway with other recruits this spring.

"I'm not looking to add anybody (right now)," he said.


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