Louisville plays the waiting game

Yesterday marked the first day of the early college basketball signing period, and Rick Pitino is still awaiting his first 2010 commitment. The Cardinals are waiting on word from Tobias Harris and will host Russell Smith on a visit this weekend. Is there a recruiting surprise in the works for the Cardinals?

College basketball's early signing period began Wednesday and Rick Pitino is still awaiting his first commitment in the Class of 2010.

The Cardinals held three 2010 commitments from Jeremy Tyler, Justin Martin and Josh Langford. But that class fell apart last spring when Tyler decided to bypass his senior year of high school to play professional basketball overseas and Martin de-committed, later landing with Xavier. Louisville backed off of Langford, who re-opened his recruitment last week, this fall.

Rick Pitino hopes to sign Tobias Harris.
Pitino had pursued J.J. Moore, a 6-foot-5 forward from South Kent (CT). Moore visited Louisville last month, but committed to Pittsburgh yesterday after considering the Cardinals and St. John's. Moore is expected to sign with the Panthers this week, but there exist some questions whether he'll be eligible to play next season. Sources say that Louisville backed away because of those questions.

Now, the Cardinals hopefully await a decision from five-star power forward Tobias Harris. Harris visited Louisville last week and is considering the Cardinals as one of seven possible schools. Harris is also considering Kentucky, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland. He's expected to announce his decision Nov. 19.

Louisville will also host point guard Russell Smith this weekend. The Cardinals haven't offered a scholarship to the 5'11 South Kent (CT) prospect but Smith is expected to sign with Louisville if an offer is forthcoming during his visit, which sounds likely. A high-scoring guard, Smith averaged nearly 25 points per game for Archbishop Molloy (NY) H.S. last season.

Elisha Justice, a 5'11, 170 pound point guard from Pikeville (KY) Shelby Valley, is expected to walk-on for UofL next season. One of the frontrunners for Mr. Basketball honors this season, Justice led his team to the small school state title last season, winning MVP honors of the All 'A' Classic. As a junior, Justice averaged 17 points and dished out 164 assists. He's also expected to break the state career record for steals this year.

If things don't work out for the Cardinals recruiting-wise this fall, there should be plenty of talent available next spring. On Scout.com's Top 100 list, 17 prospects are still available, including 10 of the Top 25. There's also indication that the Cardinals might tap the JUCO ranks for a prospect.

One interesting note, besides Louisville, St. John's is the only other Big East program that didn't sign anyone on the first day of the national signing period. Scout.com rated Syracuse's recruiting class, headlined by Fab Melo, as the league's best class.

While Pitino doesn't expect a big 2010 recruiting class to replace Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Reginald Delk, the Cardinals are counting on a blockbuster 2011 recruiting haul. Louisville already holds three Top 100 commitments – C Michael Chandler, PF Zach Price and SF Ryan Taylor. Louisville is also thought to be the favorites for Top 25 guards Wayne Blackshear and Marquis Teague.

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