The Louisville coach "baby-sat" 2009 commits Peyton Siva and Rakeem Buckles, watching both games the two played on Sunday. You can bet that Pitino also kept a close eye on 6-9 junior Josh Smith, Scout.com's #1-rated junior center and 6-4 Tony Wroten, perhaps the #1 freshman in the nation. Both Smith and Wroten are teammates of Siva on Seatle Rotary Select.
Pitino also tracked Shades Valley, Alabama forward Christian Watford, who is playing with the Atlanta Celtics. Noel Johnson, a Louisville recruit who normally plays for the Atlanta Celtics, is attending the Lebron James camp in Akron this week.
Siva, Scout.com's #6-rated point guard prospect nationally, helped guide Rotary to a perfect 2-0 pool play record to advance to the 17U Platinum Championship bracket on Monday.
Ferguson and Indiana Elite
In Rotary's first game Sunday against the Kentucky Gators, Siva scored 16 points, dished out six assists, grabbed a handful of rebounds and made a few steals to help guide his team to an easy opening round win. Josh Smith was simply dominant, holding his own dunk and block-fest. Smith had 18 points, grabbed in the neighborhood of 12-14 rebounds and blocked six shots. Wroten also had double-digit points.
In their second game against the Carolina Celtics, Siva and Rotary started slowly. Rotary trailed the Celtics by 12 early in the game before Siva, Smith and Wroten turned up the pressure on defense and started rebounding the ball. Siva hit a couple three's in the win and made a killing at the free throw line. He finished with 19 points. Smith and Wroten also contributed on the offensive end.
Though I didn't see much of Buckles' first game, a win over Raising Champions Red, I did see his second game of the day – a loss to Indiana Elite and standout 2010 forward Dominique Ferguson, who has verbally committed to Kentucky. Saddled with foul-trouble, Buckles scored 12 points before fouling out late in the game.
Playing with the Atlanta Celtics for the first time, Watford, who made an unofficial visit to Louisville last month, saw his new team drop a close game in overtime to All Ohio Force. Pitino made it a point to track Watford the entire day, taking in both his afternoon and night games. Besides Louisville, Watford also drew attention from Indiana coach Tom Crean, Memphis assistant Orlando Antiqua and an assistant from Kentucky.
Peyton Siva Siva, who wore a red Louisville hat off the court and UofL logo sneakers on it, showed both his scoring and passing ability on day one. Siva scored about every way possible – on the break, from deep, in traffic off the bounce and from the line. His 360 slam in transition demonstrated his tremendous athleticism for a 6-foot guard.
While he has s doubters, Siva is a scoring lead-guard. He probably needs to be more consistent with his decision-making but Siva has all the skills a point guard needs to be successful at the next level. He's also a fiery leader on the court. And he's not afraid to step up and take a charge, drawing at least on the day.
There's a reason why Smith is so highly-rated in the 2010 class. He's a large physical specimen, has huge hands, is active defensively and is nearly impossible to stop when he gets the ball on the block. Smith has a soft and accurate touch from the foul line, has some definite low-post scoring tools, challenges and blocks lots of shots and is a dominating post presence on both ends. Smith also showed flashes of being an adept high-post passer.
Tony Wroten Wroten, one of the top prospects in the 2011 class, is athletic, has big-time leaping ability and thrives on the break and attacking the basket in halfcourt situations. Wroten needs to continue to develop his shooting range but showed a consistent midrange jumper from 16-18 feet.
Rakeem Buckles It's hard to say what Buckles ultimate position will be at the next level. Right now, we'll list him as a combo forward. What he probably does best right now is putting the ball on the floor and being effective and purposeful with his bounce. He's a big-time athlete, rangy, long and bouncy. His monster slam along the baseline was ferocious. He also showed the ability to connect from 18 feet.
Terrance Shannon The 6'7 Shannon, who plays for the Atlanta Celtics, commands attention because of his intensity, how hard he plays and battles on the boards. Though he scored only eight points against All Ohio Force he left it all on the court, including some blood from his nose after a big-time collision under the basket. His might be a good name to remember.
Christian Watford told InsideTheVille.com that his current Top 5 consists of Louisville, Memphis, Kentucky, Alabama and Indiana. Watford said he isn't ready to narrow things down further and is still "wide-open."
Tony Wroten told InsideTheVille.com that he's hearing from Louisville, Maryland, Seton Hall, Washington and several Pac-10 programs. Wroten said Washington is his only offer. "My top five changes every week," Wroten said. "But I like Louisville, Maryland, Syracuse, Villanova, Seton Hall and Washington." Wroten said he and Peyton Siva are close friends.