First off, here's the statement that Rick Pitino issued yesterday:
"After lengthy conversations with Samardo and his family, they would like to have him test the waters with the NBA draft. He will not hire an agent and I will orchestrate his NBA visits from my office. I have reviewed the status where Samardo stands at this time and all aspects of the process with his family. I respect his family's wishes to test the waters and support them 100 percent."
And now, here's Mike Rutherford's statement:
"I'm not sure what the hell Samardo is doing."
The odds of Samuels not returning to Louisville for his junior season are minimal, but I don't think that's the issue here. It's easy to brush this off and say well why wouldn't you "test the waters" if you're a potential NBA prospect who could easily return to school should things not go well over the summer, but a guy whose maturity has been questioned ad nauseum over the past two seasons believing he has a realistic shot at being drafted this summer and throwing his name into the mix against the wishes (or knowledge, apparently) of his head coach is something I find troubling.
Samardo needs to get better, a lot better, but first I think he needs to get it through his head that he's never going to dominate the game the way he did when he was 17. He isn't that guy anymore and he's never going to be that guy again. Perhaps being humbled at camps over the next eight weeks will do the trick, but it's worrisome that having nothing more than a third team All Big East plaque after two years of top-shelf D-1 college basketball hasn't already.
In terms of the prospects of the season that lies ahead, this is as important a summer for Louisville basketball as I can remember. I don't think there's any way this group can compete for a Big East or national title, but unless a lot of these guys with comparable skills put in considerable work and start distinguishing themselves from the folks they're competing for PT with, this is going to be another year where we don't get to toast a tournament victory.
The fact that the player who should be the leader and go-to-guy of the 2011-2012 Cards is making a choice like this in late April isn't exactly a great start.