Dean wants fans to remember his heart

Rick Pitino didn't have to sell Taquan Dean on coming to Louisville four years ago. In fact, Dean's recruitment might have been one of Pitino's easiest ever. Pitino simply had to call and offer the 6-3 guard an opportunity to play for the Cardinals.

Rick Pitino didn't have to sell Taquan Dean on coming to Louisville four years ago. In fact, Dean's recruitment might have been one of Pitino's easiest ever. Pitino simply had to call and offer the 6-3 guard an opportunity to play for the Cardinals.

"I grew up watching Coach Pitino so I didn't have to come here for a visit and see anything," Dean said. "I just knew (Louisville) was about basketball, and if I wanted to get to that next level (Pitino) was the coach that was going to take me."

Before Pitino called and offered a scholarship, Dean was close to committing to one of Louisville's Big East rivals.

"I was about to commit to Syracuse right before Coach Pitino called," Dean said. "Once he called, I hung up on Syracuse and committed to Louisville before Coach Pitino stopped talking."

"I took him because I knew he was better than anybody we had," Pitino said.

Though Dean might not have played hard to get, he's proven a vital catalyst for returning Louisville to the national spotlight. During his four years, Louisville has won two conference championships and reached the Final Four last year for the first time since 1986.

"He and Francisco (Garcia) are responsible for the turnaround," Pitino said. "He had a strong desire to play for us. He's given us 100 percent from the day he's arrived. He does everything the right way."

Now, Dean will play his last game in Freedom Hall tonight when the Cardinals play host to Marquette.

"I keep trying to block it out, I never wanted this day to come," Dean said. "It seemed like I was going to play college basketball forever, and now it's done. More than anything we need a win to get to New York."

A team captain the past two seasons, Dean prefers to lead by example. He'll leave Louisville as the school's all-time leading three-point shooter and one of select few players in U of L history to score more than 1,500 career points.

"I think he's tough," Pitino said. "He's a great shooter and a good scorer. He's been a two-way player. He's been one of our premier rebounders and three best defenders. He's been a great player for four years. He leads by example, and his desire to win is incredible. He's a quiet warrior; he doesn't say a whole lot."

Dean's work ethic is second to none. Often, he begins his daily workout regimen before the sun comes up, arriving in the gym early to hoist jump shots and work on improving his game.

"A lot of players come into college and want a party atmosphere," Dean explained. "For me it was all about basketball. My goal was to come here and be a better basketball player and change this program around."

Though this season has been a constant struggle for Dean and his young teammates, Pitino said his senior leader has made the best of it." This season, Dean has led Louisville in scoring, assists and is third on the team in rebounding. Because of his all-around game, Pitino predicts Dean will have a successful NBA career.

"I think he'll make the NBA because he shoots with range and he can defend," Pitino said. "I believe he'll have a 10-12 year NBA career."

Now that the end is near for Dean at Louisville, the Red Bank, New Jersey native wants Cardinal fans to remember, "That I was all heart," he said. "I wish I could play college basketball forever. There's no money involved, it's just pure basketball. I will carry Louisville with me wherever I go."

Louisville fans won't forget Dean anytime soon, either.


Cardinal Authority Top Stories