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Monday evening Cardinal news and notes

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Louie the Teddy bear is getting ready for the gauntlet of Derby Week by hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I_medium Happy best week in the best city. Live it up, y'all.

I_medium Pio Vatuvei has inked a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

I_medium Rick Pitino hypes up the U of L women's golf team before the ladies head to Texas for the NCAA Championships.

It is now officially boat shoes season.

I_medium Eric Crawford skillfully examines the issue of whether or not the Kentucky Derby is racist.

I_medium SI's Chris Johnson looks at the decision facing Chinanu Onuaku, and says that in the end he should decide to go pro.

The Case for the NBA: Well, the league doesn't necessarily mind its projects. And Onuaku is actually ready-made for a rotation spot in several ways. He can help immediately as a defender and he can gobble up the boards, attacking the offensive glass and finding his buckets there; attempting to score on putbacks accounted for 16% of his offensive possessions for Louisville last season. You're basically bringing in a guy who doesn't mind doing the dirty work and should be more defensively advanced than most sophomores entering the NBA. That's a worthwhile cog for any team. Just ask the Cardinals: Onuaku's 4.2 Win Shares were second on team in 2015-€”16.

It's also unclear how much Onuaku would be able to improve as a pick-and-roll threat on campus. The pick-and-roll accounted for 18.3% of Louisville's offensive possessions last year—that's a decent chunk, but hardly indicative that the play is the backbone of Rick Pitino's offense. This will always be a guard-oriented attack, and the arrival of grad transfer Tony Hicks, who led Penn in scoring for two straight seasons before sitting out 2015-€”16, means it will be again this winter.

And, of course, there is the looming specter of an NCAA sledgehammer blow resulting from the investigation into the program's escort scandal. If Onuaku's camp feels the program might get whacked with another postseason ban, or if Pitino is clobbered with a suspension, why stick around?

Mock Draft rankings: SI (first round only): Unranked; Draft Express: No. 48; NBAdraft.net: Unranked

Verdict: Go. Even if it means a draft slot in the second round and a stint in the D-League to work on his offense, Onuaku's ability to defend and protect the rim can put him on track to make a roster sooner than later.

I_medium Louisville's Kaylin Morissette is one of 25 finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, which is basically the Heisman Trophy for women's lacrosse.

I_medium NBC has Louisville at No. 4 in its early ACC power rankings.

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS, IN TWEETS

  1. Duke: Consensus Preseason No. 1 in the country means they're going to top the ACC Power Rankings.
  2. Virginia: UVA is a ‘program' by now. Lose Brogdon and Gill? NBD, London's back and they've guys ready for a bigger role: Nichols, Hall, Thompson.
  3. North Carolina: Much depends on Jackson and Meeks returning, but there's more talent on the Tar Heel roster than people probably realize.
  4. Louisville: Even w/out Onuaku, Pitino has a team that should be a factor at the top of the league. Expect big years out of Mitchell, Spalding and Adel.
  5. Virginia Tech: Our ACC sleeper. They went 10-8 in the league, beat two top ten teams, return basically everyone and are a prototype Buzz Williams team.
  6. Syracuse: The PG spot is a question mark, but is Richardson and Lydon have big sophomore seasons, there are pieces on this roster to be a top 15 team.
  7. Miami: The Canes lost a lot, but Newton and Reed should thrive in bigger roles and keep this group in the NCAA tournament picture.
  8. Florida State: The Noles are loaded with talent — Bacon, Isaac, XRM, Mann — but will Hamilton find a way to get the pieces to fit together this season?
  9. Notre Dame: In Brey we trust, but losing Jackson and Auguste a year after losing Grant and Connaughton is tough. This is their rebuild year.
  10. N.C. State: Does Abu come back? Is Smith healthy? How good will Dorn and Rowan be? They have some talent, but that didn't matter last season.
  11. Pitt: Pitt has a solid trio of forwards in Artis, Young and Jeter. Can Stallings find more success with them than he had with Vandy last year?
  12. Clemson: Clemson hasn't been to the NCAA tournament in the last five years. It's probably going to be six after this season.
  13. Georgia Tech: Josh Pastner takes over a program that has lost their top four scorers to graduation. Welp.
  14. Wake Forest: Wake won one ACC game last year and lose their two most talented pieces. Yikes. Addition by subtraction? Or just regular old subtraction?
  15. Boston College: The Eagles went winless in the ACC last season and lost two of their top three scorers. Double yikes.

I_medium Jeff Greer talks with U of L recruit Markell Johnson, who appears poised to reclassify to the 2016 class.

I_medium My thoughts exactly.

I_medium Your scorecard for the second episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones is here.

I_medium The Sporting News has a way too early NFL mock draft for 2017.

I_medium Four-star wide receiver Jermaine Eskridge has Louisville in his final 10.

I_medium I answered some questions for Never Nervous, which is the best local website when it comes to covering Louisville's local music scene. You can read the interview here.

I_medium Another big time land for Jeff Walz.

I_medium Scout looks at some highlights of VJ King from the McDonald's All-American Game.

I_medium As far as the likelihood of Nanu returning to school, I suppose it's good news that his name isn't in bold here.

While selfishly I'd love to see him play one more season for the Cards, my bigger hope is that Nanu does enough in the coming weeks to make himself a first round lock.

I_medium Gerod Holliman has been waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I_medium Former Michigan State star Keith Appling was arrested over the weekend at a Dearborn strip club with a loaded AK-47. That is .... terrifying.

I_medium Eric Wood, Amobi Okoye and Gary Barnidge styling at the draft Friday night.

I_medium Louisville softball split a double-header with No. 18 Notre Dame over the weekend.

I_medium After sweeping a three-game set from St. John's, the Louisville baseball team will be back in action against Cincinnati tomorrow night at 6 inside Jim Patterson. The Keg of Nails will NOT be on the line.

I_medium And finally, I'll be doing another installment of the best "how I got home from Derby" stories this year. If you have a good one, send it to me at MikeRuth5@aol.com.