Rick Pitino Serves Up A Huge Summer Update

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino spoke to the media for just under an hour Wednesday afternoon to talk Russ Smith, his new freshmen and everything else going on with Louisville basketball. The results will have you wishing the season was just days away instead of months.

You can check out the video on the C-J's website or read the highlights below.

--He talked with Russ after he was drafted about how the mindset of "proving people wrong" isn't the right one. Russ needs to be more concerned with "proving people right," like all of the people from Louisville, Pitino included, who believe in him.

--Russ has a contract with New Orleans and I couldn't be more excited. Not sure if it's a signed contract, but it's a guaranteed deal and we're all very thrilled. I think he can be an NBA player for a long time because of all the things he does.

--We've had a couple of guys, like Shaqquan Aaron, just get here, but the rest of the team has been together for about a month now and they've been working really, really hard.

--I like this team's potential a great deal. The positives are we have a lot of talent and size. The negatives are that we've gotta get guys ready must earlier than ever before in my tenure as a basketball coach because of the schedule. We've had Big East schedules before that were as tough as our ACC schedule will be, but we've never had a non-conference schedule like this.

--We're getting great leadership from Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear right now.

--I don't wanna get my hopes too high, but this is the best Wayne has looked in some time. It has finally gotten through to him that his time here is running out, and he's dedicated himself more in this short period of time than he had the past three years combined. He looks great, he knows what we want, and I'm really excited about the way he's dedicated himself.

--Montrezl has come back more emotionally mature as a leader, which was the only thing missing from his game...aside from his foul-shooting. He's leading as a more emotional, positive leader, and we're all excited to see that.

--The two biggest improvements on the team early on are without question Akoy Agau and Mangok Mathiang.

--Akoy is a completely different player and person, and that's great for us because we need that position desperately. Mangok has put on a lot of weight, he is cut. Those two guys really stick out right now in terms of growth, and generally you see that from freshman to sophomore.

--Anton Gill has also improved tremendously, and Terry Rozier is gonna have a breakout year.

--It's taken a long time for us to get Chris Jones where we want him to be. We've wanted him to lose 10 pounds so he can become one of the quicker players in the country, and it has taken a long time. Right now, Chris is as good as any guard I've coached from a quickness/speed standpoint.

--I don't think our frontcourt or backcourt will take a backseat to anybody in the country. I'm not saying they're better than everyone, but I don't think they have to take a backseat to anyone.

--The difficult thing is our bench. We need to get four or five guys ready to come off the bench and produce. We think Anton and Akoy are ready to do that.

--Q is the most physically ready of our freshmen. Offensively, he's ready to play. Defensively, he's not, and that's what we're working on.

--Jaylen Johnson is not here. He has an academic situation, but he's fine. His high school has just gotten in their stuff a lot slower than most, and unfortunately he's going to be a little bit behind because of that.

--Anas is extremely gifted for a 7-footer. Good hands, good shot, good footwork; but he's probably going to need a redshirt season because he's so thin. He's going to be great for us down the road.

--Chinanu Onuaku likes to be referred to as "Nanu." He's physically ready and he'll be good off the bench, but he just has to get in shape. He probably has the most room to grow because he's never been in shape before. Every day he looks better.

--We've had one day with Shaqquan Aaron, and he reminds us of Francisco Garcia. He was supposed to come in at 185 and he came in at 168. The good news is he has Francisco's game, the bad news is he has Francisco's body. He's a very talented young man.

--Matz is waiting for his Visa to get approved (Free Matz).

--Assistant coach Kenny Johnson has lost 65 pounds since April.

--This is a great group and we're very excited about everything that's happening, but we've got to get these guys ready to play from the time we play Minnesota in Puerto Rico on.

--Richard's a lot different than me. He takes his summers drinking pina coladas on the beach, we go to work.

--We have to be more geared up in the preseason this year because of the schedule. Our exhibition games and our Red/White scrimmages all have to be played with a lot on the line.

--Quentin reminds me a lot of Edgar Sosa. He came here ready to play offensively, but not defensively, and that's okay. He's going to play right away.

--Chris Jones destroyed everyone in practice today. He's unguardable right now. Quentin and Anton are going to be so much better defensively because they're going up against him and Terry every day. It's like running with a 10-pound weight every day and then the games against other competition are going to be like running without it.

--Freshman don't struggle here physically, they struggle here mentally because of all the different defenses we play. Then they blossom as sophomores.

--We're losing two great ones in Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, but as good as they are, other guys are blossoming and are going to fill that void.

--We have one of the best strength coaches in the nation, and he's being challenged right now more than he ever has in his life. He's got three guys that he's got to put significant weight on, and he's got to keep weight off of guys like Chris and Wayne.

--Russ was a lot of fun to coach his junior and senior year, I wouldn't say he was "fun" to coach as a freshman or sophomore.

--Wayne had to admit certain things to himself. He's very mature and he's one of the nicest guys we've ever had in our program. Guys like Wayne and Larry O'Bannon and Peyton Siva are so easy to coach. But Wayne had to say, 'look, just working hard isn't enough, I've got to take it to another level," and he has.

--We're after 10 players in the class of 2015 right now. We evaluate sophomores and juniors, but we're not evaluating the 10 guys we're after. We're just showing up to tell them how interested we are. We know they can play.

--I'm a Miami Marlins season ticket holder. I did it for when I'm in my 90s.

--We told kids in the spring months that we didn't want them to commit before visiting. We feel that in the month of July we'll get some commitments. We told one kid in April who wanted to commit that we didn't want him to until he visited, and he has. We will be taking commitments from this point on.

--Social media makes it hards with kids and commitments. They just love the love.

--We'll play UNC-Wilmington in the Billy Minardi Classic this year because Kevin Keatts wants the gifts.

--We made the schedule so hard this year because we wanted to get ready for the ACC.

--I didn't want to play the game against Minnesota, but I left it up to Richard. He said it was great for their program. Everyone will be happy going to that game, but one of us is going to be riding back upset.

--Chinanu won't turn 18 until November. You look at him and he looks older, but he's very young.

--Montrezl texted him at 7:30 to say that he was going pro, and then texted him back two hours later to say he was staying.

--Every person around me in my life has always been in shape besides Vinny Tatum.

--Wayne Blackshear is punishing people with his body on drives, and that's what we've been waiting for him to do. He had become too much of a spot-up shooter. A lot of Wayne's reluctance to drive was over fear that his shoulder would pop out, and now he's over that.

--The team's enthusiasm level is very high right now, but they know the schedule we're up against so they're very focused.

--I think there can be a spot for Wayne in the NBA. He has the one thing Russ didn't and that's size.

--In addition to being a great player, Russ is a big-time person, and I think the people in New Orleans realized that. He's not going to get into trouble. He never missed one class when he was here. His idea of a good time isn't what a lot of other people's idea of a good time is. His idea of a good time is eating a lot of pancakes. He's just a great guy to be around.

--Stephan Van Treese, I believe, is signing with a German team. He's waiting on a passport right now. They don't understand that when he brings down a rebound he's not going back up with it.

--Dillon Avare is now eligible to play. David Levitch and Trent Gilbert are our other walk-ons.

--Trent is physically ready to play. Dillon and David have gotten stronger, but still need to get stronger. All three of those guys are capable of helping us in practice, I don't know if they'll play (meaningful minutes) in games this year.

--I agree with ESPN saying Billy Donovan was the best coach in college basketball. That's who I would have voted for, 100 percent. Richard and Billy are my two favorite coaches in America.

--We wouldn't be struggling if Trez hadn't come back, but we certainly wouldn't be where we are. We needed him to emotionally mature and he has. He no longer feels like he has to prove to everyone that he's the toughest guy on the court, everyone knows he's the toughest guy on the court.

--I love international players because you fall in love with their humility. I don't think we'll get one in this upcoming recruiting class, but we already have enough.

--We're going to have a lot of guys who can handle the ball, and I think because of that we're going to be able to move the ball really well.

--We need either Chinanu or Matz to be able to play right away.

--Because of the players the last four years, I think I can coach a very long time. My passion at 61 is better than it was at 31, and I had a great deal of passion back then. It's the players the last four years that have advanced that passion. It's not me, it's them. They stir my drink. They all have such great attitudes and enthusiasm and such a willingness to learn, and that wasn't always the case with guys here.

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