Pitino hopes to 'wow' top recruits

Rick Pitino is gearing up for a huge recruiting weekend. The Louisville coach expects to host four of Scout.com's Top 35 prospects in the Class of 2011 for official visits, including Quincy Miller, the No. 2 overall prospect in the nation. Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels weighs in on the import for Pitino's program.

Rick Pitino is gearing up for a huge recruiting weekend.

The Louisville coach expects to host four of Scout.com's Top 35 prospects in the Class of 2011 for official visits, including Quincy Miller, the No. 2 overall prospect in the nation. Josiah Turner, a five-star point guard, Chane Behanan, a four-star power forward, and Deuce Bello, a four-star small forward also will visit campus this weekend.

"I'm not sure there's been a more important [recruiting] weekend for Pitino," Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "Bringing in a guy like Quincy Miller, who is rated No. 2, Deuce Bello, Chane Behanan, Josiah Turner. Those are all Top 30-35 guys."

Why is it such an important recruiting weekend for Pitino's program? Simple. After getting bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the first round last season, Pitino needs to infuse Louisville's roster with the type of talent necessary to compete for Big East and NCAA championships again.

Deuce Bello
"They need to get some of these guys," Daniels said. "If they can secure commitments from some of these guys they're looking at a recruiting class that would likely rank in the Top 3 [nationally]. It's a huge weekend for Louisville basketball, Rick Pitino and if it goes well they could come out with some commitments in the next few weeks."

If Pitino can land a few of the stars who will be on campus this weekend, Daniels believes UofL will challenge on the national stage next season.

"If they get Quincy Miller, Chane Behanan, Deuce Bello and Josiah Turner, if they're able to get some of those guys to go with what they already have committed, I think you're looking at a team in 2011 that competes for the Big East championship and is one of the better teams in the country," said Daniels. "If they get some of these guys they're going to be in the hunt for a title."

Daniels says that landing Miller is Pitino's No. 1 priority.

"Quincy Miller is the biggest piece to it all," Daniels said. "He has ridiculous skill set and can really score. He's a guy that everyone in the county has wanted and they have a great shot of getting him."

Chane Behanan
While Louisville might be the team to beat for Miller, the Cardinals seemingly strengthened their position with Chane Behanan, Scout.com's No. 29-rated prospect, this week. Behanan, who visited Louisville last week, canceled a scheduled official visit to West Virginia this weekend and will visit Louisville instead. Behanan's coach also says that the 6'7 power forward could make a decision in the next few weeks, a significant change in his decision-making time-frame.

"I think it's pretty significant," said Daniels of Behanan's visit switch. "West Virginia has always been thought to be one of his top two or three schools and that's a visit he scheduled quite some time ago. In my opinion, he's obviously strongly considering Louisville and him canceling the visit to West Virginia and going back to Louisville for the second time in two weeks proves that."

Daniels thinks that Miller and Behanan would fit well together in Pitino's frontcourt.

"There's no doubt they'd like to take both of those guys," Daniels said. "They're different players. Quincy is more of a hybrid-forward who can spend a lot of time on the perimeter, and Chane can really do some serious damage inside."

Louisville also is hoping to land a point guard in this class and Josiah Turner has emerged as Pitino's top target at the position. A five-star guard from Sacramento, California, Turner emerged as one of the Top 5 point guards in the nation with his strong play over the summer.

Josiah Turner
"Louisville came out of nowhere with Josiah Turner," Daniels said. "I think it's a credit to the relationship that [Louisville assistant]Tim Fuller had with the Turner camp. They're kind of a wild-card. Everybody has always assumed that Kansas is the frontrunner, but Louisville has made a pretty strong play for him. They got a visit and in recruiting that gives you a chance. I think it's clear Louisville would like to take a point guard in this class. They've been looking for a big, physical guard and that's what Josiah Turner brings to the table. I think they're right there with him."

It would be impossible to discuss Louisville's monster recruiting weekend without mentioning Fuller, who joined Pitino's coaching staff in June when Walter McCarty left to coach in the NBA. Fuller has played a big role in positioning the Cardinals with Miller, Bello and Turner. He's also the lead recruiter for Behanan.

"His relationships have really brought a lot to the table with this recruiting class," Daniels said. "Steve Masiello did a great job on Wayne Blackshear and Zach Price and Tim Fuller has stepped it up with some of these other guys. His relationships have played a big part in Louisville getting involved with some of these top guys."

So, how will this weekend play out? Will Pitino be able to close the deal and land a few commitments this weekend from the talented group of players that will visit Louisville's campus? "You can't say there will definitely be commitments," Daniels said. "But at the same time it's very possible that a couple guys could pop this weekend. It's more of a wait and see deal, but it wouldn't surprise me if a guy or two committed."

One thing is certain, Pitino is going to roll out the red-carpet and show his top recruits that Louisville is one of the best places in America to play college basketball.

"They've brought their top targets in and they're going to try to show them a good time," Daniels said. "They're going to take them to the new basketball arena, they're going to show them around campus, and they're going to show them the atmosphere at the Kentucky game. They're going to try to 'Wow' these guys and it's the perfect weekend to do it."

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