2010 sharp-shooter on Louisville's radar

Russell Byrd, a 6-7, 190-pound sharp-shooter from Fort Wayne (IN) Blackhawk Christian, is squarely on Rick Pitino's radar. One of Indiana's top prospects in the 2010 class, Byrd, who is also being courted by several Big Ten programs, has strong interest in the Cardinals.

Russell Byrd, a 6-7, 190-pound sharp-shooter from Fort Wayne (IN) Blackhawk Christian, is squarely on Rick Pitino's radar. One of Indiana's top prospects in the 2010 class, Byrd, who is also being courted by several Big Ten programs, has strong interest in the Cardinals.

"Last July down at the national tournament in Orlando assistant coach (Richard) Pitino saw him play two or three games and he did really well – shot the ball great – and they talked with his AAU coach Eric Vaughn and Roosevelt Barnes," Byrd's father said. "It was after one of those games they let him know they were extremely interested and sending him an offer."

Byrd said his son has not yet received a written offer from Louisville, but added that "He was real excited," by the Cardinals verbal offer.

This spring, Byrd said the Louisville coaching staff has continued to monitor his son's progress. "I know they've watched him a few times this spring," Byrd said. "We've talked to them a couple of times throughout the year. I think he's looking forward to getting a chance to go down and visit them. We're talking about visiting the campus this summer."

Besides Louisville, several other programs have been showing interest, including Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Indiana and Baylor.

"We just spent last Friday spending all day with Coach Tom Izzo up at Michigan State," Byrd said. "Michigan State wanted to do that face to face and they offered just last week. The first school that ever showed interest and really pursued him was Iowa when coach Lichtlighter took that job. Iowa has offered. Indiana, Baylor and Notre Dame have offered, too."

While it's a little early to be talking favorites, Byrd says four schools have emerged at the top of his son's current list.

"I would say right now Iowa, Michigan State, Louisville and Notre Dame are probably right up there toward the top," Byrd said. "I don't think he has any clear-cut favorite. Right now he's just working really hard in the gym and he realizes he's got another year before he has to make a decision."

As for Louisville, Byrd said there are a few reasons his son likes the Cardinals.

"Listening to Russell talk about it, I think he has always had a real fascination with Coach Pitino and a respect for the job he's done wherever he's gone," Byrd said. "He loves to shoot the ball and I think the style of play and the kind of offense favors the kind of player he is and the mindset he brings. I also think he wants to play close to home."

This spring, Pitino has expressed a desire to recruit players who can fill up the basket from deep, especially with the three-point line moving back to 20'9 next season.

"He (Richard Pitino) has indicated on a number of occasions that they're just making a huge commitment to try and find pure shooters," Byrd said. "They want a kid that can shoot the ball extremely well and do some other things. I think Russell's size, according to (Pitino), makes him extra attractive to them."

Byrd, who recently turned 16 years old, already stands 6-7, 190. "He's probably going to grow another inch or two," Byrd said. "Then you're looking at a 6-8 or 6-9 kid who can handle the ball, has good speed and shoots the lights out."

Byrd said his son would like to make a college decision next spring or summer. "He's going to be interested to see who shows up and tracks him through his (junior) season," Byrd said. "A couple of those schools that I've mentioned have made an effort to keep up with him and come to Fort Wayne and sit in the stands. And that says a lot to him about a (coach's) commitment."


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