What does Louisville's play for Andrew White mean?

CBS' Jeff Borzello reported on Sunday that Louisville has extended a scholarship offer to Andrew White, a talented wing in the class of 2012.

If the story ended here then it wouldn't warrant its own post.

What makes the interaction with White interesting - or perhaps, more accurately, troubling - is the fact that U of L has also reportedly talked to White about the possibility of reclassifying to the class of 2011, a move that would make him eligible to play in the upcoming season. Now Louisville isn't the only school that has brought this up as a possibility (Borzello says BYU and Wake Forest have as well), and the optimistic Cardinal fan will view this as Rick Pitino merely doing whatever he can to land a talented prospect, but all this still begs the question: What if White commits to Louisville and does reclassify?

As it stands, there will be 18 players on the 2011-2012 Louisville Cardinals basketball team. That unusually high number is possible, in part, because scholarships have been taken away from Kyle Kuric and Elisha Justice, both of whom went to school for free last year.

So where does Andrew White's theoretical scholarship come from?

The common response to this question in years (or months) past has been, "these things always end up working out." The problem with that is we're not talking about this in April or May. Not only is the summer moving steadily towards its final weeks, but the team is actually together and practicing in preparation for its trip to the Bahamas. If a Cardinal was going to transfer, that decision almost certainly would have already been made by this point.

People have also brought up the fact that there is some question over whether or not Jared Swopshire and/or Rakeem Buckles are going to be healthy enough to play this season. That doesn't matter. As long as they remain with the team, they're using a scholarship.

This brings us to the heart of the issue.

Rick Pitino wrote on his website last week that freshmen-to-be Kevin Ware and Wayne Blackshear were both still at home finishing some class work. It sounds harmless enough, but it's hard to blame paranoid Cardinal fans who have relatively fresh memories of multiple instances where they've been told not to worry when the situation in question ultimately turned out to possess ample cause for concern. Offering a kid a scholarship and then asking if he would mind being good-to-go for the upcoming season isn't going to do much to alleviate those fears.

Adding to the stress is the fact that White is a small forward. Not exactly a position of immediate need for Pitino. If the player in question were an elite point guard, then it would be much easier to accept the news without delving too deeply into what it might and might not mean.

The staff may have another explanation, but extending a scholarship offer to a kid who could theoretically play next season would seem to guide us in the direction of two potential conclusions: 1) There is a strong chance that Wayne Blackshear and/or Kevin Ware are not going to be eligible to play next year. 2) A player on the current roster is going to transfer or give up his scholarship at some point between now and the beginning of the fall semester.

Even if White ultimately commits somewhere else, Blackshear and Ware both qualify without issue, and every Cardinal who currently has a scholarship holds onto it, Sunday's news is still very intriguing.

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