Louisville lands Five-Star Coleman

Rick Pitino felt his program had a major need on the wing next season. Friday afternoon, Louisville might have solved that problem when Justin Coleman, a five-star small forward, called Pitino and made a commitment.

Rick Pitino's dogged courtship of five-star 2010 small forward Justin Coleman paid off Friday when the explosive 6-foot-5, 205-pound prospect called the Louisville coach and committed to the Cardinals.

"I just committed about 10 minutes ago," Coleman told InsideTheVille.com. "First of all they had an opening at my position and I had to jump on the opportunity at a school that big. They also have a great atmosphere and they pack their arena every night."

Pitino, and assistant Walter McCarty, have been persistent in their recruitment of Coleman, and teammate Gorgui Dieng. Pitino has personally seen the duo three times this season and both prospects have made two unofficial visits to UofL, including Monday's Big East victory over Connecticut.

"Walter and Pitino wanted this one," Huntington coach Rob Fulford said. "Pitno's been to three games personally and he showed Justin the most love. I just think it was a good fit for both. There was a need at the position for next year and Justin wants to play at an extremely high level. He wants to play in the NBA and with Coach Pitino having coached in the NBA that had a lot to do with it. I think the main thing was Pitino did a good job developing the relationship. He just felt really comfortable with them."

Louisville got a commitment from Scout.com Top 25 prospect Justin Coleman Friday afternoon.
Coleman said Pitino was excited when he told him that he was going to play for UofL next season. "He told me he was happy to have me," Coleman said. "So I have to go there and give it my all every night."

With the loss of starting small forward Reginald Delk after this season, Coleman could be pegged to fill that spot.

"They play my style of play and they get up and down the court, play defense and score a lot of points," said Coleman, who added that he's worked hard this season to improve his defense.

Fulford said Coleman is Big East ready, but noted that the Scout.com Top 25 prospect still needs to work on his defense and be more willing to accept coaching.

"He's Big East ready right now, physically he's an imposing guard," Fulford said. "He already has a Big East frame. He has to buy into [playing] defense. He is a lock down defender when he wants to be. He's an unbelievable athlete."

Coleman emerged as an elite-level national prospect at the NBA Top 100 Camp last summer, where he won several awards. An excellent three-point shooter and big-time finisher around the rim, Coleman should boost Louisville's offensive production on the wing next season.

"He's a prolific scorer," said Fulford. "He shoots the ball very well. Our last game he was 4 for 6 from the three-point line. I think once Justin gets to the point where he will accept coaching his potential is limitless. The tools are there. He's a great fit for Louisville because of the uptempo [system] and they press."

With Coleman now in the fold, Louisville will turn their full attention to securing Dieng, a 6-foot-10 frontcourt standout.

"We've been talking about it," said Coleman. "He's been leaning that way [to Louisville] and this [should] seal the deal and we'll get him too. He's very skilled and he's a smart player. And he's a big presence on defense."

Fulford isn't sure when Dieng might end his recruitment but told InsideTheVille.com Monday that he thought the Sudanese native was getting closer to making his decision.

"I'm not sure what Gorgui's time frame is," Fulford said. "I think he's obviously leaning [toward] Louisville. He really likes Marshall and there are some other schools who are involved that he likes. But at the end of the day I think it's going to come down to Marshall and Louisville. Just like for Justin, Coach Pitino and has been here and that means a lot."

Now that Coleman's recruitment is over, Fulford said his star prospect will devote his attention to becoming academically eligible to play next season. Fulford said Coleman has made progress in the classroom this year and will take the ACT for the first time next month.

"He's taking care of his coursework," Fulford said. "At the end of the day, if he keeps moving in the direction he has, he will qualify. He's a very bright kid. I'm confident he'll pass the test. His main objective is to get his core GPA up. I'm confident everything will be fine with his core credits and test score."

Coleman, who is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds this season, is the second member of Louisville's 2010 recruiting. He joins Russ Smith, a high-scoring, 6-0, 150-pound point guard from South Kent (CT) Prep.

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