Pitino checks out nation's top JUCO

Rick Pitino was in Florida Wednesday and even made an appearance in Gainesville to see Florida, where his son, Richard, is an assistant, play Georgia Southern. But the main purpose for Pitino's visit to the Sunshine state wasn't to watch the Gators; it was to check out the No. 1 junior college prospect in the nation. InsideTheVille.com has the scoop.

While Tobias Harris won't announce his decision until Thursday evening, it looks like Rick Pitino has already moved on to his next possible target - 6'9, 225-pound Ricardo Ratliffe.

Ratliffe, the nation's No. 1 junior college prospect, has been posting huge numbers at Central Florida C.C. this season, including a 40-point, 19 rebound effort against Coastal Georgia recently.

Wednesday, Rick Pitino traveled to Ocala, Florida to get a closer look at the standout power forward. Central Florida CC, the nation's top-ranked junior college team, lost their first game of the season Tuesday night 85-76 vs. St. Peterburg College. Ratliffe had 34 points and 19 rebounds in the loss.

"Coach Pitino couldn't talk to him so he just came in to see him play," said Central Florida CC coach Tim Ryan. "That was his first time seeing him play."

Ryan said that Louisville hasn't offered Ratliffe a scholarship yet, but added that the Cardinals will continue to monitor his progress this season.

"They seem to have expressed a high-level of interest in him to me," Ryan said.

Originally from Virginia, Ratliffe is one of the top frontcourt prospects in the nation.

"He's like a 4/5," Ryan said. "He's so skilled underneath the basket. He's just really hard to guard. His last three games he's had 36, 40 and 34 points and 15, 19, and 19 rebounds. He's shooting 75 percent from the field and he's made about 20 three's."

Besides Louisville, Ryan said Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri, Clemson and Cincinnati are also in the mix with Ratliffe, the national junior college Player of the Week last week.

"He's not going to sign until late," said Ryan.

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