Multiple sources, including SNY's Adam Zagoria, have reported in recent hours that Rick Pitino has offered Derrick Caracter an opportunity to return to the Louisville basketball for the 2009-2010 season, and that Caracter has accepted.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, Pitino said:
"Derrick has come to me repeatedly in the last two months asking to return to our team. I have encouraged him to choose a different path over and over. He came to me one more time and asked for any option available to get back on the team. I have given him the same option I gave Scott Padgett when he played for me at Kentucky.
"If Derrick is willing to grow up in the game of life and we can help him realize his potential, then we are there to help him. But that's a big if. He will not be a part of our team next year. He will have to measure up in three areas - as a student, as a person and as a basketball player - before I will entertain the possibility of him returning to our team for the 2009-10 season.
"We expect him to get a job, pay for school on his own, get in shape and abide by the other steps I have reviewed with him. If he measures up, then he can earn his way back. But that remains to be seen."
I realize this development makes us look pretty silly to outsiders who saw the "Caracter will transfer" headline a few weeks ago and considered the matter finally put to bed, but the vast majority of us knew better, and I honestly think that this is the best possible solution Pitino could have come up with.
I sincerely believe that if Caracter had gone through all the pre-draft camps, been properly humbled in Orlando and returned home with his tail tucked between his legs, that he'd be a member of the team right now. Instead, he saw the writing on the wall and opted to not subject himself to any more embarrassment, and then began telling anyone willing to listen that he was already back on the team.
This communicated to Pitino that he could expect more of the same from DC in his junior season, a dynamic any coach would just as soon keep as far away as possible from a team that could contend for a national title. But the equally congenial and immature prodigal son was persistent in his effort to prolong his Cardinal career, and thus The Godfather found a suitable way to have him humbled without being completely thrown out in the cold.
If DC - who apparently received a motivational call from Scott Padgett, advocating this route as a potential life-changing experience for the better - embraces the Padgett plan and ultimately becomes the mature, motivated and immensely talented player we all want him to be, then fantastic. If he screws up somewhere along the way and blows this final lifeline, then, like I said almost two months ago, Louisville basketball will be just fine.
The once-a-month quotes about "finally getting it" worked for a while, but if you really want this to work, Derrick, then don't let us here anything about you for the next nine months.