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Earl Clark will return for his junior season


The pants: lose 'em.

University of Louisville forward Earl Clark has chosen not place his name in the 2008 NBA Draft and intends to return for his junior season with the Cardinals, the University of Louisville announed tonight.

"Earl is looking forward to having a great junior season," U of L coach Rick Pitino said in a release. "I'm delighted he has made the prudent decision to return to school. He'll definitely be one of the premier forward in college basketball next season. He's a hard worker that has really improved each day and will continue to do so."

I think the best kind of joy is the one that completely blindsides you. This time last week I had totally eliminated the possibility of Earl Clark ever playing another game in a Louisville uniform, which makes this news all the more exhilarating.

I've had several conversations with friends about next season since the news of Clark's departure broke, and in each one one of us would invariably say "damnit Earl" once we got to the issue of who would start at the four. It's impossible to fully gauge the impact of losing a player like David Padgett, but we're now looking at bringing back four starters from a team that was a game away from the Final Four, and replacing the fifth with the No. 2 overall player in the class of '08.  

This team just became a legitimate contender.

And it's peanut butter jelly time.