Earlier this week, Pitino travelled to the Northeast to get his first up-close and personal look-see at 6'5 junior Mike Marra, a talented shooting guard from Smithfield, R.I.
Marra, who made a visit to Louisville earlier this season, gave Pitino a nice present for his efforts – an early verbal commitment.
"Mike wants to be an NBA player and continue playing at the highest level," said Marra's coach, John Carroll. "He thinks Rick Pitino can get the most out of him and make him the best player he can be. He loved the city, the coaches and the players at Louisville when he visited and he believes he can fill a void there with his three-point shooting."
Marra tallied 14 points, 5 rebounds and three steals in a one-point victory over Winchendon with Pitino in the stands Wednesday afternoon. Over the last half of the season, the 2009 standout averaged about 27 points per game for Northfield Mount Hermon.
"The transition to this level was an interesting one for Mike," Carroll said. "He came from a place where shots didn't matter and any shot had no recourse. That was an adjustment for him. He's made that adjustment very well. The first half of the season he was shooting around 30 percent from three-point range; the second half of the season we've made some adjustments and he's shooting about 55 percent from three, including a 10 of 11 performance from three against St. Thomas More and Devin Ebanks. That was a big-time dual and anybody in the gym will tell you Mike won that one."
In his first season at Mount Hermon since transferring from tiny Smithfield HS, Marra has made big strides with his game under Carroll's tutiledge.
"He's taken his game to a different level," said Carroll, who made 342-three's in college. "I've seen a lot of ball and I don't see another three-point shooter in the country that has his elevation, his jump shot and athleticism. I just don't see that package out there."
Marra, considered one of the elite shooters nationally, could see his national ranking improve this spring when scouts get a chance to take a closer look at him.
"I've only seen him one time and he didn't have that good of a game," said Scout.com's Dave Telep. "He appears to be a guy that can play the two or the three and he's really athletic."
Stay tuned to InsideTheVille.com later today for comments from Mike Marra about his verbal commitment to the Louisville Cardinals.