The Cardinals signed four players last November, and if everyone on the current roster were to return next season, Louisville would find itself one over (14) the maximum number of scholarship players allowable (13). Still, the mathematics of the situation don't seem like they'll slow down Pitino's quest to add more players this spring.
"Right now we're probably not done recruiting, we're just going to keep staying after it," Pitino said Thursday night on his weekly radio program. "We have an obvious weakness with rebounding. So we need to get a frontcourt, kick-tail rebounder. That's first."
Louisville has been out-rebounded in every Big East game this season except one, including getting beaten badly on the boards by an under-manned Cincinnati team Monday night in a 74-68 loss that dropped the Cardinals to 3-7 in the league and in danger of missing the Big East Tournament in New York.
It's unclear who might emerge as a prime recruiting targets to help Louisville's rebounding woes this spring, but three prospects, 6-9 Mike Davis, 6-9 Lance Thomas, and 6-9 Darrell Arthur, fit the bill. Both Thomas and Arthur are regarded as Top 25 caliber prospects, while the bullish Davis, a teammate of Louisville signee Derrick Caracter at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburgh, Mass., originally committed to Pittsburgh before opening his recruitment back up.
Pitino also might shop around for a point guard, though the pickings appear very slim. Only two of Scout.com's Top 30 point guard prospects remain unsigned – 6-0 Malcolm Grant from Brooklyn, NY, and 5-11 Eugene Harvey from Newark, NJ.
"We've got to develop that point guard position," he said. "What makes Villanova great is (Kyle) Lowry. If you have a great point guard and the game is close at the end good things will happen. We've got to develop that position whether it's through recruiting, whether it's (Edgar) Sosa or the continued development of Andre McGee. That is an extreme necessity."
McGee has improved his scoring numbers of late, pitching in 14 points against Notre Dame and Cincinnati. He has 53 assists this season, and has committed 32 turnovers in 23 games.
"Andre is basically a two-guard at 5-9 that has to learn to play the point," Pitino said. "He has to develop a better assist-to-turnover ratio and he has to learn to take a two-point shot. He has to learn the midrange pull up shot."
Pitino admitted that there are no impact players in the current freshmen group, but he's hoping there are at least a couple in his nationally-regarded 2006 recruiting class.
"This is not an impact freshmen class," Pitino said. "There's not a Tyler Hanbrough or Dominick James, but it's a Larry O'Bannon class - a class that's just going to get better and better and stick together. What I'm hoping for is that next year we do have some impact freshmen."
The Cardinals coach apparently has his hopes pinned on 6-9 Derrick Caracter and Bronx, NY guard Edgar Sosa, both of whom missed games this season for their high school teams for disciplinary reasons.
"I'm hoping that Derrick Caracter is an impact freshman and that Sosa could be an impact person because he's sort of like a combo-guard," Pitino said. "We have one player that's going to play in the McDonald's game (Earl Clark), and Sosa will play in the Jordan game. And I think Jerry Smith is the most complete player. He really understands how to play the game. I'm hoping a couple of them are impact freshmen."
If Pitino continues to actively recruit this spring and all four signees arrive on campus next fall, something will have to give with his current roster of scholarship athletes. Asked Thursday night if he anticipated that everyone would return next season, Pitino said, "If we did, we'd have 18 players."
It seems clear that one or more players from this current team won't be back next season. Pitino didn't speculate who that will be, however. "If there's a player on our team that looks at our roster and thinks he's not going to play, I have no problem at all with that player wanting to play. I think it's bad for a player to stay at a school and not play. There's nobody I could pick out and say ‘they should think that way.'"
Pitino also sounded confident that his class of recruits will make it academically, though he admitted that 6-8 forward Earl Clark still has some work to take care of to qualify to play as a freshman. Asked if he had a backup plan in case a recruit failed to qualify, Pitino said, "Yes we do, but I think all of our guys are going to make it. I feel very strongly about our guys making it. Derrick Caracter is doing well in school right now. The guy that's just got to stay after it right now is Earl Clark, but I think he'll make it.