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Tuesday evening Cardinal news and notes

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Card Chronicle legend Keonta Vernon is ready for another season of Cardinal hoops.

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—Bye week spread check: Scott Satterfield by $3.5 million.

—Two of Sports Illustrated’s four college hoops writers like Louisville to make the Final Four. One is picking the Cards to win the whole thing.

Geary: Louisville

While Michigan State is undoubtedly the deserved preseason favorite, college basketball has a funny way of refusing to go to script. Louisville is in an ideal position to make the leap into the sport’s upper echelon, thanks partly to what it’s returning and partly to what it’s bringing in. Junior Jordan Nwora is the headliner, of course, and he’s expected to be one of the nation’s very best players this season. He’ll handle the bulk of the scoring load, but the list of key Cardinals returnees is long, and includes 6’10” Steven Enoch and 6’11” Malik Williams—two big men who are candidates for a jump—reserve guards Darius Perry and Ryan McMahon and starting wing Dwayne Sutton.

At point guard, a lot rides on St. Joe’s transfer Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble (15.6 ppg, 39.7% shooting) replacing Christen Cunningham. The above group would be strong on its own, but Chris Mack brought in the nation’s No. 12 recruiting class, led by five-star freshman Samuell Williamson—who will add size and scoring on the wing—four-star center Aidan Igiehon and four-star guard David Johnson, who is currently sidelined but will eventually contribute at both guards spots. The pieces need to fit together, but I like the Cards to win the ACC and secure a top seed in March, which would put them in fine position to cut down the nets.

—Bellarmine, Louisville’s exhibition opponent tonight, will start the season ranked No. 3 in the NABC Division II Preseason Poll.

—Damion Lee had a career night for the Warriors on Monday.

—The NCAA has taken the first steps toward players being able to profit off their name, image and likeness, and Russ wants his bag.

—On a related note, this may be the break the rest of the ACC has been waiting for.

—Forbes says the NCAA’s language in today’s announcement is vague and leaves little hope that they’re going to get this right ... something you can say about virtually every statement from the NCAA.

—Rivals recruiting writer Eric Bossi talks about Bardstown High’s JJ Traynor and his upcoming college decision.

I haven’t seen four-star forward JJ Traynor as much as I’ve seen many of the other seniors we have ranked in the 2020 Rivals150, but I’ve seen enough to believe he’s one of the biggest “upside” guys in the class.The 6-foot-8 product of Bardstown (Ky.) High will be making somebody happy this week when he announces his college decision. I traded messages with Traynor on Monday and he indicated that a decision is on and could come as soon as Wednesday, but no exact time or method of how to release his decision has been decided.

Long and versatile with touch, length and athleticism, Traynor burst onto the scene during the late summer playing with Dion Lee’s Louisville Legends. He had schools from all over the country in to see him this fall but from where I sit it looks like Cincinnatiand Louisville are the biggest competitors for his service. Kentucky has been involved as well but given that the Wildcats have not yet offered, it’s hard to see him ending up there.

John Brannen has been very active in his attempts to lure Traynor to Cincy and he could make an immediate impact. But, I’ve currently got my FutureCast pick in for Louisville. Chris Mackand the Cards are close to home, there is history with Traynor (his father Jason Osborne played there) and they’ve turned things up quite a bit in the past few weeks.

The Cardinals have already landed one of the top junior college players in the country –

Jayden Scrubb, who I discuss more below – and four-star wing D’Andre Davis. The addition of Traynor would move their class into the national top 15 and after landing 2019’s No. 11 class, Mack and his staff will have quickly replenished the talent in Louisville.

For what it’s worth, Traynor’s crystal ball is currently 100 percent to Louisville, and that includes a prediction from Evan Daniels.

—LJ Nesbitt’s latest Buckethatism celebrates the win over Virginia.

—Pat Forde is leaving Yahoo and heading to Sports Illustrated. Congrats to Pat.

—Hype video season is here.

—The U of L men’s soccer team re-enters the coaches poll this week at No. 25.

—The ACC might be significantly down this season, but the league’s stable of running backs — including Javian Hawkins — is among the nation’s best.

—Banner Society wants to acquire the New Mexico Bowl.

—Jeff Greer is still galavanting around Europe and happened to run unto Kyle Kuric.

In Europe, Kuric encountered a totally different style of basketball, forcing him to “really change my game to be more than just a spot-up shooter and to be more aggressive and attack off the dribble.” He logged hours and hours watching workouts and trying new drills with trainers, hoping to adjust to his new hoops landscape. European basketball, Kuric says, is “a lot more technical,” and it is harder to score, requiring good squads to pass and space the floor well to break down defenses. His ongoing efforts to evolve have paid off in the form of a steady rise through European hoops.

He spent two seasons at Estudiantes in Madrid, where the team finished mid-table in Spain’s Liga ACB, the top domestic hoops league. In 2014 he joined Gran Canaria, a regular top-10 finisher in the league. There Kuric helped the club win its first trophy, the Supercopa, and qualify for the EuroCup, the second-best European club basketball competition.

After a season at Zenit St. Petersburg, Kuric signed with Barcelona, giving him the chance to play at the highest level in European basketball. FCB competes in the EuroLeague, the continent’s premier event.

“I’m not sure I’ve completely figured it out,” Kuric says, “but I have improved year-to-year.”

—U of L’s Molly Fears have been named the ACC Diver of the Week.

—Seems right.

—College hoops blog Three Point Range previews the ACC and has Louisville behind only Duke.

—Pro Football Focus ranks every wide receiving unit in the country and has Louisville at No. 13.

13. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

In a true emergence story for the ages, the Cardinals have seemingly risen from the ashes of the 2018 season to become a real threat in the ACC in just a span of 12 months. They have their receiving corps to thank for their uptick as Tutu Atwell is dominating the competition. Atwell currently has hauled in 668 yards on 41 receptions including 418 yards after the catch and 28 receiving conversion. The strong duo of Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins have also impressed, gaining 481 and 283 receiving yards, respectively. Fitzpatrick has brought in five scores and 15 more first downs while the Cardinals rank fifth nationally by averaging 16.98 yards per reception as a team. They’ve converted 74 of their total 107 receptions into a first down or touchdown in a great season to date.

—The CJ looks at what Jordan Watkins’ commitment means for Louisville.

—Reminiscent of Jonathan Greenard before the Kentucky game a couple years ago.

Here’s hoping Miami expends a maximum amount of energy against their rivals.

—Big Red Louie grades out Louisville’s performance against Virginia.

—Blanton Creque has a message for all the Louisville fans who have sent him well-wishes.

—The CJ gives a preseason profile of Jae’Lyn Withers.

—And finally, beat Bellarmine.