"He gives us a great sixth man off the bench," Pitino said of Palacios. "Every team wants to have a great sixth man and he gives us that."
Palacios provided the Cardinals, who have won four straight games and are currently second in the Big East behind Georgetown, a big boost off the bench Tuesday night in their 88-68 win over DePaul, posting 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and three steals.
"We've been playing him a little bit at the three and as well as the four and, like David (Padgett), he knows exactly what to do and what not to do at the defensive end and he knows how to execute at the offensive end," said Pitino.
Palacios missed the first nine games of the season after sustaining a preseason knee injury. He's been gradually rounding back into form since returning to action in late December and has played a key role for Louisville off the bench this season, averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.
"Juan's career has been one that has been exemplary in terms of he's fought back from the injuries and he's stayed positive," Pitino said. "But his injury situation has been off the charts in terms of the norm. It's every year. He's missed 65 percent of his college practices and he's missed a lot of games every year. It's just been one thing after another."
Palacios recently passed a major career milestone. Against Rutgers last month, Palacios became the 58th player in Louisville history to score 1,000 points. He currently ranks No. 51 on the UofL career scoring list, 21 points behind No. 48 Kenny Payne.
"Now he's healthy and that's the most important thing," Pitino said. "He's never gotten down and he's kept a positive attitude."