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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Happy Oaks

Kentucky Derby Previews Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

—First pitch for tonight’s game between Louisville and Wake Forest has been moved from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Here’s a preview of the three-game set between two of the most potent offenses in college baseball.

—The latest episode of the Card Chronicle Podcast is here.

—Eric Bossi of 247 Sports ranks Louisville targets Emoni Bates and Tyrese Hunter as the No. 1 and No. 2 players currently available in the transfer portal.

EMONI BATES, SF, MEMPHIS

Overall portal rank: No. 1

2021-22 stats: 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game

Latest buzz: The end looks to be near when it comes to Emoni Bates. Bates recently released a final list of Arkansas, DePaul, Eastern Michigan, Louisville, Michigan and Seton Hall but all signs are pointing heavily in the direction of new coach Kenny Payne and the Cardinals.

As we’ve mentioned several times since Bates hit the portal, it is fair to say that his lone season at Memphis was a disappointment. At the same time, you have to consider that he should have been a high school senior and that when you get right down to it, there’s just not another player in the portal with more natural ability than Bates. If he does end up at Louisville and Payne is able to tap into the small forward’s ability, then Bates could make some serious noise during the 2022-23 season.

TYRESE HUNTER, PG, IOWA STATE

Overall portal rank: No. 2

2021-22 stats: 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game

Latest buzz: You know what’s better than possibly landing the top player in the portal? Landing the top two players in the portal. While Tyrese Hunter to Louisville has been gaining some steam, there’s still work to do. Tennessee is in there pretty deep; he’s supposed to visit Gonzaga this weekend and there are still some who believe that Kansas could make a run at him.

Wherever he lands, Hunter is likely to make any conference’s All-Defensive team and we’d bet heavy on him making a huge leap forward on the offensive end. Hunter has legitimate NBA upside and should be make a major impact at whichever school he ends up choosing to transfer to.

—Travis Branham’s portal rankings also have Bates and Hunter at No. 1 and No. 2.

—ESPN’s Jeff Borzello has Hunter as the best uncommitted transfer prospect in the portal and the third-best transfer overall this offseason. He has Bates at No. 34 on the same list.

—After a 12-3 win over UIC, the Louisville softball team will wrap up its regular season with a series against No. 20 Notre Dame. Friday’s game against the Irish has been postponed and the pair will now play a double-header on Saturday.

—Jeff Greer is answering questions in the latest installment of his U of L hoops newsletter.

—Seems good.

—Brittney Spencer will sing the National Anthem before tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby.

—Seedy K is recapping his experience at Jazz Fest in New Orleans here and here.

—Boston College WR Zay Flowers says he turned down a pair of six figure offers via NIL companies — $600,000 to one school and $300,000 to another — in favor of remaining an Eagle for his senior season.

—Hoops Insights examines just how much Tyrese Hunter and/or Emoni Bates could help Louisville next season.

Hunter fills a glaring need

Despite El Ellis’ tweets about his positional preference, Louisville needs a more established playmaker at the lead guard spot. Last season Ellis was much more of a scoring threat than a playmaking one, and struggled down the stretch to post more assists than turnovers. Setting aside his personal statistics, it’s generally a good idea to upgrade at every position following a 13-19 season. Hunter is absolutely an upgrade at point guard for Louisville.

Last season Hunter averaged 4.9 assists per game and 3.2 turnovers per game, for an assist:turnover ratio of about 1.5:1. That’s an acceptable figure, and likely to improve as he gets more seasoning. The most impressive part is that he did that in the Big 12 for an NCAA Tournament team. Hunter wasn’t exactly an overlooked recruit either; he was #34 in the class of 2021 RSCI. So, he combines pedigree and production.

—Louisville RB Tiyon Evans is No. 22 on On3’s list of the 25 best transfers in college football for next season.

—”My Old Kentucky Home” is once again on the hot seat.

—Miami football is suddenly dreaming (and spending) big again.

—It’s tournament time for the U of L men’s golf team, which will be the No. 6 seed in the Normal Regional.

—There’s profitable, and then there’s fading the Reds.

—Adam Zagoria writes that Kenny Payne could be the perfect coach at the perfect time for Emoni Bates.

“If Kenny Payne can do for Emoni what he did for the Kentucky kids he coached, Emoni can be successful at Louisville,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla told me.

...

“Potentially, his best position is as a scoring wing when he physically and mentally matures as a young player,” Fraschilla said. “Playing him at point guard right now would be malpractice.”

Louisville already has at least one point guard in former junior college guard El Ellis, who averaged 8.7 points and 1.6 assists last season, and probably needs another.

“Emoni’s strength is shooting the basketball,” said Steve Haney, a Michigan native and the agent for Scoot Henderson, the projected No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft per ESPN.com (where Bates is projected at No. 20.)

“I’ve been in the gym with him. He’s an elite level shooter who needs to go somewhere they run sets for him to get shots. He’s as good a shooter I have ever seen at his age. He’s a play-maker, and a great passer but not a point guard.”

—After a long-haul battle with COVID that cost her two professional seasons, Asia Durr feels like she’s starting over.

—Just three weeks after drafting her, the LA Sparks waived Kianna Smith on Wednesday.

—There are now five former Cards on WNBA opening night rosters.

—The top two high school baseball players in the state of Kentucky are both Trinity Shamrocks who are committed to Louisville.

—Former U of L recruit and UK PG Devin Askew is headed to Cal now.

—Quick update on our guy Knox who was featured on the site a couple of weeks ago:

Knox has completed his treatment at St. Jude’s children’s Hospital and he and his family are now home back in Louisville. They have partnered up with the Kentucky Blood Center to do a super donor week of May 16th through the 21st. Obviously this is a cause that is dear to their hearts as their 3-year-old had to receive two blood transfusions and platelets while undergoing chemotherapy.

If you’d like to help out, you can do so by signing up here.

—The latest 3rd & Central podcast for Louisville baseball is here.

—Danny Manning and Nolan Smith both feel the rising energy for U of L basketball.

—Scott Satterfield, like everyone else with a working brain, believes Alabama tampered with Tyler Harrell.

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show will be on this afternoon from 3-5:20 before the Louisville Bats take over. You can stream the show here.

Happy Derby weekend, everyone.