New Targets Emerge

After spending the month of July on the recruiting, Louisville coach Rick Pitino has added several new targets to his program's 2011 'wish-list.' Now that the evaluation period has ended, Pitino hopes his staffs hard work will result in a few new commitments for the UofL program.

Rick Pitino and staff had a busy month of July on the recruiting trail, a journey that took them from Indianapolis and Cleveland to Las Vegas, Orlando and New York.

Before the July evaluation period began, Louisville held verbal commitments from 2011 prospects Wayne Blackshear, a 6'5 shooting guard from Chicago (IL) Morgan Park, Zach Price, a 6'9 center from Louisville (KY) Jeffersontown and Ryan Taylor, a 6'5 small forward from Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence North.

Pitino and staff definitely made Blackshear and Price a high priority on their watch-list last month. While Pitino kept tabs on Taylor, who reportedly has classroom issues to handle, in Indianapolis at the adidas Invitational in early July, it will be interesting to see if he's still part of Louisville's recruiting plans heading into the fall.

While Blackshear, Price and Taylor are familiar to Louisville fans who follow the recruiting process, several new names emerged on the recruiting trail for Pitino's program last month – none bigger than Quincy Miller, a 6'9 forward rated Scout.com's No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2011. Miller, along with Top 40 teammate Deuce Bello, are seriously considering the Cardinals.

"They're in really good shape with Quincy [Miller] and Deuce Bello," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels. "I don't know if they're definitely a package deal but Louisville would take them both."


Can Louisville get in the mix with Rodney Hood?
Miller and Bello, a 6'5 wing forward from North Carolina, factor heavily into Louisville's 2011 recruiting plans, as does Bowling Green, Ky star power forward Chane Behanan. Behanan, the MVP of June's NBA Top 100 Camp, emerged as a McDonald's All-American candidate this summer and remains a top target for Pitino's program.

It also appears that Louisville is in the market for a wing forward. Deuce Bello is clearly a prime target, as is Jakarr Sampson, a lanky 6'8 forward who possesses a quick first step and good ball handling skills, from Akron, OH.

Two new names have also emerged on the wing: 6'8 Mississippi forward Rodney Hood and 6'7 New York standout Maurice Harkless. Hood, who is being recruited by Louisville assistant Tim Fuller, can shoot the ball with range and saw his stock rise nationally in July. Harkless, a former UConn commit, plays for the same AAU program that produced former Louisville players Edgar Sosa and Derrick Character.

"They definitely want Rodney Hood, he's an impressive 6'8 wing player," Daniels said. "One of the problems with Hood is they're a little late to the party so we'll have to see what happens there. And Pitino was in New York last week watching Harkless."

Pitino also might be looking to add a point guard in this class to compliment 5'11 sophomore Peyton Siva. If the Cardinals do sign a point guard in 2011, look for them to go 'big.' Louisville's three primary point guard targets – Lewisburg, TN's Kedren Johnson, Seattle's Tony Wroten, and Las Vegas's Nick Johnson - all stand taller than 6-foot-3.

"I don't know if [Kedren Johnson] is their No. 1 point guard target but they're definitely interested in him," Daniels said. "Tony Wroten is a guy to mention but I'm not sure they're seriously pursuing him. Nick Johnson is also on their list."

Louisville is also keeping tabs on shooting guards Aaron Thomas (Cincinnati Aiken) and Nick Faust (Baltimore City College). The Cardinals, though, haven't offered scholarships to either prospect.

What's next for Pitino's staff?

Getting their top recruiting targets on campus for official – or unofficial – visits this fall. After spending a month on the road, the Louisville coaches know who they're targeting in the Class of 2011. Now it's time to get those prospects on campus and line up a few more commitments.

That's the plan for Rick Pitino now that his travels on the recruiting trail are over.


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