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Tuesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Jack McGuire is rolling into the second half of 2020 with high hopes that it’ll be much better than the first.

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—Jeff Walz has added Miss Kentucky basketball finalist Malea Williams to his 2020 recruiting class.

—Here’s a full film breakdown of new U of L hoops commit Bobby Pettiford.

—Lamar Jackson has zero trouble juking some of the best athletes in the world, but avoiding jet skis is a different beast.

—Sophomore Sam is coming.

—Jeff Goodman and Brett McMurphy grade all the athletic directors in the ACC and give Vince Tyra an A-. Only Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick received a better mark.

—Plans for a Wes Unseld memorial in Louisville are currently on hold.

—The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn tells the strange tale of how Spike Albrecht ended up at Louisville.

Last October, Spike Albrecht was, by all measures, living every young college graduate’s dream come true. The former Michigan and Purdue basketball player lived in Nashville. He made great money. He was still quasi-famous. He probably could’ve been the basis for his own Netflix series.

“It was a quality lifestyle, let me tell ya,” the 27-year old now says, “but I needed more than that. I was like, shit, I miss hoops, and I need to be passionate about what I’m doing. Really, I needed to be around the game.”

Eight months later, Albrecht is not only back in college basketball, but on his way to the single-most unlikely destination. For a young man seemingly subscribed to quixotic fates, even this is a bit much. Albrecht is joining Louisville — the same Louisville program he once torched with a 17-point fever dream in the 2013 national title game — as a graduate assistant to Chris Mack’s coaching staff.

One would think, of course, Albrecht must have some connection to Mack or his staff. In college basketball circles, GA positions are ascribed by connections and contacts. You don’t apply for jobs. You work your allies until someone brings you aboard.

In the case of Albrecht and Louisville, though?

No, of course not.

“I didn’t know him, at all,” Albrecht said of Mack by phone Monday morning. “I guess I shot my shot, you could say.”

—Here’s another good feature piece on Gary Barnidge, the “fantasy football legend who disappeared after his moment of glory.”

—Ricky O’Donnell’s Western Illinois Leathernecks have captured their second national title.

—In its college football preview, Athlon has Micale Cunningham as the 23rd-best QB in the country.

—The latest episode of the College Basketball Talk podcast is running back Louisville’s 2013 championship game win over Michigan.

—A look at Louisville baseball’s post-MLB draft depth chart.

—When it comes to getting advice about being a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate, Micale Cunningham doesn’t have to search far.

—David Johnson and Carlik Jones could make up the best backcourt in the ACC next season.

—Chris Mack has offered class of 2021 center Gabe Wiznitzer from Hargrave Military Academy.

—I haven’t talked to anyone who’s spent more than a little bit of time with Reggie Bonnafon who hasn’t raved about his “unrivaled” work ethic.

—The WNBA is set to return with a 22-game season before the end of July. Here’s everything you need to know about the return plan.

—Louisville continues to push hard (subscription) for 4-star quarterback Shedeur Sanders, the son of Deion Sanders.

—Saint Louis WR Demetrius Cannon has picked up a crystal ball prediction to Louisville.

—ESPN’s FPI ranks Louisville as the fifth-best team in the ACC for the upcoming football season.


FPI SOS rank: 49

The rundown: Looking to build upon a surprisingly successful first year under head coach Scott Satterfield last year, the outlook is favorable for Louisville to do exactly that in 2020, as ESPN’s FPI has the Cardinals favored in 10 contests this fall. That said, Louisville will find itself playing in pivotal games both near the start and at the end of the season — the Cardinals face Clemson in Death Valley in Week 2 and then finds itself in what should be another difficult road contest on Nov. 21 when the team travels to Notre Dame. Louisville only has a 6.1% chance of escaping Clemson with a victory opposed to a 34.6% chance of walking away from South Bend on a triumphant note.

—Many local high school sports teams have found ways to safely return to the practice field.

—For the CJ, Danielle Lerner tells the story of how Bobby Pettiford would up committing to Louisville.

—Playing in the ACC and his relationship with Chris Mack played a big part in Pettiford’s commitment.

“I’m going to Louisville and I’m from North Carolina and I wanted to play in the ACC,” Pettiford said. “I think it’s the best place for me to go and be able to be a pro. I actually have a lot of my family stays there. That’s a plus. I’ll also be home to play games in front of my family here.”

“They have an open backcourt and coach [Chris] Mack made it known he wanted me bad,” he added. “They have a great fan base. I love the fan base there, and they have a NBA arena.”

Pettiford, a standout at Creedmoor (N.C.) South Granville, picked Louisville over his finalists — Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Providence.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard was drawn to Mack during the recruiting process and is excited about the opportunity to potentially get early playing time.

“The head coach can do certain things and show signs that he really wants to be my guy,” he said. “Coach Mack FaceTime’d me a lot and sent me hand written letters. He would call me every day. He said it’s open and we are the top of the ACC and he wants me to come in and be a true point guard.”

“I can talk to him about anything, it doesn’t have to be basketball,” he said. “I can talk to him about playing NBA 2K, it can be whatever.”

—In his latest newsletter, Mike Prada writes about why we’ll never see an NBA star like Wes Unseld ever again.

—Former Cardinal hoops star Becky Burke has been tabbed as new women’s basketball coach at USC Upstate.

—This is an incredible find:

—Congratulations to U of L associate athletic director Amy Calabrese, who is one of 20 senior-level administrators that has been selected to participate in the NCAA Pathway Program.

—Because of the Covid-19, the sports ticket market could lose as much as $17 billion in 2020.

—First time Memphis State has been on par with Louisville in anything in a long time.

—After emerging as a surprise starter at cornerback last fall, Anthony Johnson is stepping into a leadership role heading into the 2020 season.

—Justin Lavey and Danny Oriente have both signed undrafted free agent deals.

—Nailed it.

—Scott Satterfield has offered Florida offensive lineman Kimo Makaneole.

—Howard Schnellenberger is once again not nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame, which remains absurd.

—Robbie Bell is the guest on the latest episode of The Crunch Zone podcast.

—Lamar is just the best. Also, how happy is that Hialeah defender that video of high school games wasn’t quite as prevalent nine years ago.

—Montrezl Harrell is one of the top “microwave players” in the NBA.

—Three-star right end River Helms out of Alabama has a Louisville offer.

—Pundit Arena covers the story of Aidan Igiehon’s unlikely journey from Ireland to Louisville.

In the past when he has returned, he has played with his old team, Dublin Lions and helped out with camps for younger kids. The new generation.

He sees the importance of giving back.

“I’m glad he has pride in Ireland,” begins Nibo.

“Him and his brother Brendan, I always tell them both, wherever you are you have to be proud of your country, of where you come from.

“You have to let them know this is who you are. Ireland has been a good place to my kids. They must be able to represent the country in a good way, not a bad way. They have to bring that good name back to Ireland.”

—ESPN re-drafted the NFL from scratch and Lamar Jackson wound up a Lion just to torture me.

—Good story here from the Charlotte Observer on Reggie Bonnafon’s efforts to give back to Louisville.

—And finally, Vince Tyra says Louisville continues to plan for the 2020 college football season starting on time.