Despite all the offseason talk surrounding potential roster additions and “contingency plans” for Donovan Mitchell leaving, Rick Pitino says it looks like Louisville won’t be adding any more new faces for 2017-18.
In an interview with Terry Meiners on 840-WHAS on Tuesday, Pitino stated that despite having one scholarship available, the current plan is to hang onto it. Unless rising junior Deng Adel chooses to follow the lead of Mitchell and Jaylen Johnson and keep his name in the draft.
“If Deng comes back, which I’m 99 percent sure he is, I probably won’t use it,” Pitino said. “We’ve got enough. We’ve got two really good walk-ons coming in that can help us in practice. We’ve got a young man from Manual, Dwayne Sutton, that can help us. So we’ve got enough players to compete. I’m very bullish on the basketball team because we’re very, very athletic.”
Sutton, who came to Louisville as a walk-on and sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, was awarded a scholarship earlier this week.
Still, the moves of Mitchell — which Pitino said he “expected” — and Johnson have left U of L with the possibility to add one more player for next season. The most likely target has seemed for weeks to be Wright State transfer Mark Alstork, who has previously said that he plans to take an official visit to Louisville on May 17.
With Mitchell gone and no other proven shooting guard on the roster, Pitino reiterated on Tuesday that he plans to use Adel at a new position in his junior year.
“We’ll probably move Deng into the two guard spot, V.J. into the three,” Pitino said. “Darius Perry and Q will battle it out at the one. Ray Spalding at the four will battle it out with Malik Williams. Malik then will battle it out with Anas. Jordan Nwora is there. We’ve got a really nice team coming back.”
It’s rare for Pitino to single out freshmen during offseason talk about guys who need to produce in order for the upcoming campaign to be a successful one. It’s something that the rest of the college hoops world has been dealing with off and on over the last decade, and something that this offseason’s departures have made Pitino face.
“This will probably be the first year since I’ve been at Louisville where freshmen are going to have to have a major impact for us to be successful,” Pitino said. “I’m looking forward to getting them in this summer — we’re going to practice in less than two weeks — and I’m excited to see the freshmen play.”
You can listen to Pitino’s full interview with Meiners here.