Chatting with Terry Meiners, Pitino told the 84 WHAS radio host that there is "zero" chance the 6-9 sophomore forward Earl Clark will return next season.
"Earl is bent on it," Pitino said. "He's going pro – trust me on that one."
Though Clark hasn't formally hired an agent it's apparent that there is no turning back for the talented New Jersey native. Clark, who had a big NCAA Tournament for the Cardinals, likely projects as a middle to late first round NBA Draft pick.
"He's going pro," Pitino said. "Obviously, I've been on record I'm not in favor of this decision but it's not my decision to make. All I can do is give him advice. I think if he stayed in school he'd get emotionally more mature, physically more mature and he becomes a top 7 or 8 pick in the draft next year in a much weaker draft. Instead, he'll probably go anywhere from 18 to 30.
later this week.
"So I'm not in agreement with it but it's sort of like your son or your daughter you don't approve of who they're going to marry. You see all the blemishes and the possible future problems. They don't see it. They get married and you hope it turns out to be a good marriage. That's the way I look at this."
While Louisville is losing one forward, the Cards will be boosted by the return of 6-6 Terrence Williams. After the Cardinals NCAA Tournament run ended in the East Regional finals against North Carolina, Williams indicated that he'd test the NBA waters. But in the wake of Clark's announcement over the weekend, Pitino said Williams will definitely return for his senior season.
"T-Will's not going to test the waters," Pitino said. "He's going to be co-captain and he'll probably have a press conference (later) this week. T-Will's very sensible and he listens. He needs to stay for his senior year. He's a great athlete and he will be a pro."
Now, Pitino must turn his attention toward shoring up his frontcourt for the 2008-2009 season. A major strength for the Cardinals this season, Louisville's frontcourt for next season will be marked by inexperience and lack of depth – at least as things stand presently. Two incoming freshmen – Terrence Jennings and McDonald's All-American Samardo Samuels -and redshirt freshman George Goode figure to play key roles in the frontcourt next season with Terrence Williams.
Pitino mentioned two different possible frontcourt combinations Monday afternoon – one, probably the most probable option, with 6-10, 230-pound freshman Terrence Jennings at center and 6-8, 260-pound Samardo Samuels at power forward. Pitino also said he could use 6-8 George Goode at power forward with Samuels at the five spot.
"We're a little thin and a little young in the frontcourt but we do have talent," Pitino said.
Pitino also could sign one or two prospects during the late signing period, which begins April 16.
"We're still trying to beat the bushes to see if there's a 6-7 or 6-8-inch player," said Pitino. "We don't want to go into the season with just four frontcourt players. And Clarence Holloway still hasn't had a ruling. Recruiting is still open so we'll see what happens."