Of course, you all remember Sebastian Telfair, Donta Smith, and Amir Johnson. Neither Telfair nor Johnson, both McDonald's All-Americans, showed up at U of L, instead by-passing college for the NBA. Smith, the JUCO player of the year two years, followed Telfair to the NBA, and now plays in the NBDL.
Despite those setbacks, Pitino sounds confident that his top signee this year, 6-9 Derrick Caracter, will matriculate to college next fall. Caracter recently ran into some trouble on his prep school team. After transferring from St. Patrick's last fall, Caracter was temporarily off Notre Dame prep coach Bill Barton's team. Now back on the team, Pitino says it's time for the big man to shape up.
"He was having some attitude issues," Pitino said last week during his weekly radio program. "He transferred from St. Pat's where he got in some hot water. He just got suspended for answering the coach back at halftime."
Pitino compared Caracter to Ellis Myles, the former problem-child turned Final Four hero.
"He's a nice kid," said Pitino. "Ellis was much more of a problem than Derrick Caracter, but he'll be handled the same way that Ellis was handled. He'll either shape up physically and mentally or he will be put on the waiver list very quickly. It's up to him."
The Louisville coach said he told his future star that he has no choice but to get his act together before coming to U of L next fall.
"I told him that this doesn't make sense in choosing the University of Louisville and coming to play for me," Pitino explained. "I told him, ‘You will not loaf, you will not take it easy, you will not act this way.' If he conforms like Ellis conformed, this young man could be one of the more dominating players in college basketball. He is a physical specimen."
There's no question he's a large specimen – too large presently for Pitino's liking. Like Myles, Caracter will have to do some serious work to get his body in shape to play in Pitino's system.
"He says he's 280-285 pounds, I think he's 310 pounds," said Pitino. "I think he needs to play at 260 pounds, and he will be that by the way."