Red & White Scrimmage ushers in another new Era



Twenty years ago we got to watch our Louisville Basketball teams play in early scrimmages against teams like EA Sports All-Stars, Premiere Athletes and Athletes In Action to quench our thirst for early hoops. On October 24th, 2010 The Cards’ hosted a public intrasquad scrimmage to open the new 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. A new platform for early season hoops had arrived and the Red and White scrimmage ushered in a new era that evening.

It was the day that every Louisville Cardinal fan had waited for. We would no longer play second fiddle to truck pulls, horse shows, and rodeos. And we would no longer have to watch as our arch rival Kentucky played a game on our home court. The University of Louisville Basketball team would finally have a home to call its own. Tickets were grabbed up fast by Cardinal fans and that first Red/white scrimmage was sold out in days. Louisville Fans weren’t going to pass up the chance to see their new digs.

A year later on Oct. 14, 2011 the Red and White Scrimmage would take the National stage when Louisville was one of 11 schools featured during “ESPNU Midnight Madness”. It was a four-hour program that did live cut in’s showcasing how some of the top programs in the country were starting their practices that year.

After that big night the Red and White scrimmage became a staple for the program and on Sunday afternoon it will usher in another new era of Louisville Basketball. Coach Mack hit the ground running when he was hired as the Louisville Basketball coach. That Louisville Brand everyone thought would take years to repair hasn’t missed a beat on the recruiting trail. It just goes to show you what happens when you get a young hungry guy like Coach Mack. He rolled his sleeves up and went to work. I really love his blue-collar approach.

He has also managed to fix the distance between alumni and current program. He has everyone feeling ownership again and Cardinal pride has never been stronger across the board. The way Coach Mack has attacked all of these challenges in just a short period of time is really impressive and don’t know of many who could have done it any better. I know this guy is a helluva basketball coach, but he is also a magician. He has made the blues disappear.

The team’s motto this season is Tough, Together, Unbreakable and in talking with these guys at media day they are living up to every word of that. These guys have transformed their bodies, are transforming their games and transformed their minds. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for anyone to break this teams will.

We owe it to this staff and to this roster of players to pack the Yum Center for Sunday’s Red and White Scrimmage just like we have in the past for big moments. Fans need to follow Coach Mack’s lead. Let’s show the College Basketball world that the NCAA didn’t slow us down. They only woke us up.
Stay woke…

L’s Up!

Media Day Interviews

Ryan McMahon

Darius Perry

Jordan Nwora

Khwan Fore

VJ King

Mlik Williams

Akoy Agau

Christen Cunningham

Blackout: A tale of two Bobby’s


About 12 years ago I hit a pretty good stride in my life. I had just met the girl who became my wife and got the job that I still hold to this day. 2006 was a great year for me and a year that played a big part in where I am today. There was another guy hitting his stride in 2006 and Bobby Petrino had my Louisville Cardinals Football team on the cusp of College Football greatness.

Sports writers found all kinds of creative ways to describe what was then (and might still be) the most hyped game in Louisville’s history. Even with the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, Louisville football was the biggest story in town that week. I remember some of the local news guys doing live feeds from inside an empty (then) Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium on that cold November 2nd morning before the game.

By nighttime, a crowd of over 43,000 fans packed the stands, (a record crowd at that time) most of them were wearing black to take part in what Louisville Football promoted as a “blackout.” First Blackout promotion of Bobby Petrino’s career. He really hit peak Bobby Petrino that night when his team beat #3 WVU ending their 14 game win streak and propelling the Cardinals into BCS Title Talk.

“We keep track of our run-pass ratio. We wanted to stay aggressive and our players like to play that brand of football.”

“If we only score 28 points, we feel like we’re struggling. Our guys are very motivated to be No. 1 in the nation in total offense.”

These are few of Coach Petrino’s quotes from that game… Man those were the days. He was a coach that wanted to beat you and wanted to score a hundred points doing it. I loved watching that brand of Louisville football. After that first Blackout game, the Cardinals were 8-0 celebrating the biggest win in school history. A win that vaulted the Cardinals into the heart of the national championship race that year.

We all know the story too well on how that season ended… Looking back at it now everything really started to unravel for Bobby Petrino after that November night in 2006. His BCS Championship hopes vanished in New Jersey. He left Louisville on the first train out of town to the NFL after that season. An experiment that didn’t end very well for him. Then he got his shot coaching in the mighty SEC only to have his infatuation with SEX ruin that coaching stop.

But everyone loves a good comeback story and at the Blackout game on Labor Day in 2014, it looked like we were all going to have a front row seat to one. Our Cardinals beat Miami on that Monday night 31 to 13. The victory provided a successful Atlantic Coast Conference debut for the Cardinals and to Bobby Petrino’s second coaching stint at the school.

There was a lot of similarity to his first Blackout game at Louisville that night. The hype and all… The Cardinals took the field under the lights in all-black uniforms with matching chrome helmets to thunderous cheers from a record crowd of 55,428, all but a few dressed in black. 31 points! That Bobby offense was back. The hype was back.

Maybe the Louisville Football program and Coach Petrino are trying to recapture some of that Blackout game magic announcing the promotion this week. But the hype is gone. Sports writers are just trying to find the motivation to write about this game. There won’t be any live feeds from an empty Cardinal Stadium on Friday morning. The stadium might be empty at game time Friday night. A Blackout game in Louisville used to be the hottest ticket in town. Even eclipsing horse racing royalty one time. This week I’ve got alerts every day from a ticket app on my I-phone about ticket prices being slashed.

The Cards won’t be playing Friday night to be in the conversation of College Football’s elite. Instead, the loser of this one will be considered one of College Football’s worst. A harsh reminder for this College sports fan that things can change quickly and boy things have changed around here quickly. But hey I’m still a sucker for a good comeback story. Maybe there is some magic left in those Black uniforms.

“If we win out, there’s no way they should leave us out.”

Running back Kolby Smith said that after a program-changing win in that first Blackout game in 2006. Now he is the Louisville Running Backs coach. I’d love to see his group come to life on Friday night. Freshman RB Hassan Hall looked like a younger version of his coach in the game against Florida State. And I’d love to see WR’s Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick channel some of that Mario Urrutia and Harry Douglas magic of Blackout old. Maybe Puma can channel some of that Will Gardner swagger from that game in 2014.

2006 was a good year for Bobby Petrino and it is the reason he is where he is today. Brought back in and given an ironclad contract by Tom Jurich. I’m sure he thought he’d see Coach Petrino recapture some of that fire. He wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on an old friend and I’m not ready to throw in the towel folks. But we need to see some signs of life from that guy who used to want to score a hundred points. I am a sucker for a good comeback story. I want this team to succeed and will be cheering my ass off for them on Friday night.

Go Cards!

(photos in this story courtesy GoCards.com)

The Beak Football Media Day Wrap-Up


Media Day is a signal that our sports dry spell is almost over Cardinal Fans. Another exciting Louisville Football season is now only weeks away. It’s always great to hear from Coach Petrino, his staff, and the players during this time of the year. Especially since the end of last season left most of us with more questions than answers. Talking with these guys on Saturday morning I felt the anticipation and excitement from them to get to Orlando and open up the season. Everyone seems very optimistic but did not undersell the hard work they still had ahead of them to get ready.


Raise your hand if you thought that the Cardinal’s offense became too one-dimensional at the end of last season. I loved Lamar Jackson just as much as the next guy. And when he tucked and ran for an 80-yard score I was in awe of the talent and speed. But I feel like the offense as a whole kinda revolved around that. I wouldn’t ever say that the offense will be better without Lamar. That’s crazy talk. You don’t lose a weapon like that and get better. I do think the offense this season will be more dynamic. Meaning I think that the process of getting that production from the team as a whole will pay off. This team is full of new energy and positive attitudes. Guys are just waiting for their shot.


Coach Galloway’s track record of recruiting and producing NFL talent at the wide receiver position is well-known. He is still working with enough speed and talent this year that the Cardinals could quickly develop into one of the nation’s most versatile offenses. He talked very confidently on Saturday morning about his guys moving forward.


With the help of Coach Mike Summers, the 2006 Cardinals were ranked 2nd in the nation in total offense. Coach Summers has a great football mind and knows that it all starts with fundamentals. In listening to him yesterday It seems that he will use that philosophy to bring even more improvement to his group this season. I think he will have those guys ready to be more physical and playing harder. He enters this season with one of the best groups Louisville has had up front. With guys like Becton, McNeil, Bentley, Thomas, and Foy there should be some big holes to run thru. Coach Summers talked on Saturday morning about how he liked the progression his guys were making. Even with all of the exciting players on the depth chart, I’m most excited about the O Line. Games are won and lost in the trenches.


The Louisville Defense also has a lot of speed and talent. A lot of that talent is young and unproven and some guys in this unit will be working with their 3rd coach in four years. I talked with Coach VanGorder on Saturday morning about his transition into the locker room. He seems like a very old school no-nonsense kind of guy. He seems confident that the turnover at his spot can be negated by sticking to his and the teams’ core principles and if you ask some of his guys they seem to be buying in. As hopeful and optimistic as I am about the defense this remains the biggest question mark of the season for sure.


I expect that we will see Goldwire, Peterson, Robinson, and Boykin along the Defensive line this season but I’m most excited about Jon Greenard. He is a big-time pass rusher who has 9.5 career sacks and was one of the top pass rushers in the nation in 2017. With added bulk to allow him to play with his hand in the ground, I expect him to be more dangerous and versatile this season.


Another guy I’m excited to see at the linebacker spot is Dorian Etheridge. One of the top defensive players in West Virginia coming out of high school he said he was impressed with Louisville’s “Light Up the Ville Camp”. With this guy holding down that LB spot I hope he can help this young Louisville D stop opposing offenses from ”Lighting up the Ville”.


The Louisville Wide Receiver corps will be one of the best units in college football this season. Guys like Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Seth Dawkins are expected to lead the way. These are some very talented guys and they are also a very confident group. I don’t think you’ll see them be intimidated when the Cardinals play Bama in a few weeks. In fact, I think they are all looking forward to the challenge. I really like our wide receivers.


As far as the Louisville running game is concerned I think it has been pretty much by committee during off-season work-outs but the guy who is standing out is Trey Smith. Smith is a hungry kid who has waited for his time to shine. I think he’s got 2018 in mind for that to happen.

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I’m tired of talking about football and I’m ready to start watching some. Only two more Saturdays without football Cardinal fans…

Cards Kick-off year number 5 at ACC Media Days


Wednesday marks the unofficial start of the college football season for us here in ACC country. It’s a lean time of the year for college sports but conference media days is a thirst quenching event for all avid fans. Coach Petrino will have WR Jaylen Smith and LB Jonathan Greenard with him at the 2018 ACC Football Kickoff, July 18-19, at The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. Two great players that will certainly play a major role in the Cardinals success in year five of the conference.

Coach Petrino and the Cardinals are 21-11 heading into year five of ACC play. There will be a few more questions heading into this season than in seasons past. Who will step up and fill the roles left by guys like Reggie and Lamar? How will life without Lamar look? You don’t replace that. And who is ready to step up and bring the pop for Coach VanGorder on defense. I expect these to be a few of the many asked over the next three days.

Senior Wide Receiver Jaylen Smith will be one of eleven student-athletes at ACC media days who were chosen first-, second- or third-team All-ACC in 2017. He will also be one of 7 returning starters on the offensive side of the football for the Cardinals. He had 980 yards with 7 touchdowns and became a highlight reel catching some long passes from Lamar Jackson. He averaged over 16 yards a catch in 2017. Jaylen will highlight a very talented Louisville receiving corps. He is sure to be a big target for the Puma this season.

The Louisville defense lost seven players. A lot of tackles and a whole lot of heart graduated last year. One of five returning starters on defense and next man up is Jonathan Greenard. Greenard led the team with 15.5 tackles for loss and tied for team honors with 7.0 sacks in 2017. He finished 32nd nationally in tackles for loss and 47th in sacks… James Hearns was nasty at that linebacker spot. He will be missed. But Geenard could help fill some of that void.

Seven of the returning starters on the offensive side of the ball is on the offensive line. Big, athletic and quick on their feet this will be our best group up front in a long time. Coach Summers has those guys ready to win those battles in the trenches. That and a young hungry and talented group of defensive players has me optimistic about year five in the ACC. The first four years of this great conference has been a blast. I’ve been on many cool adventures and watched a helluva lot of good football. I’m looking forward to another season of that.

You can watch all the happenings at ACC media days on the ACC KICKOFF PAGE. The Coastal Side of the conference will be at the podium on Wednesday. The Atlantic side will get the spotlight on Thursday. Coach Petrino and the guys are up from 11:30 am till noon on Thursday.

Go Cards!

Coach Mack finally gets his man


It’s no surprise that we have had our problems recruiting, and securing transfers. And can’t you blame the kids? Louisville has not been in the best light as of late. But the ship is headed in the right direction. With the pickup of graduate transfer Christen Cunningham from Samford, it is a huge boost to our program.

Cunningham missed a majority of last season due to an illness but was cleared to play another season. The former Henry Clay star is returning home. The last time he was here he put up 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists on our Cards at The Yum last season.

Cunningham is a true guard and with the loss of Q this will pay out huge. He will be a huge experience boost on the court and at the guard position. He is an assist monster, so with some of the shooters that I think will step up this year including McMahon I think it will blend well.

Cunningham is a huge boost for our program for what he brings to the court, but also to the program as a whole as we are rebounding from a rough spot in recruiting.

Welcome to the Ville Christen!!!
L’s UP!

Maxwell Bird
#L1C4

When the NCAA gives you lemons you turn them into some Red lemonade.



After a tumultuous season of ups and downs, a heartbreaking loss on Senior Day and missing the Tournament on selection Sunday Louisville basketball had hit its lowest point. Then something happened in that first game of the NIT.

Fans showed these players that their love for the Louisville program means more than an NCAA bid. They showed that the passion for Louisville basketball extends well beyond wins and losses. Somewhere in the second half of that first NIT game, the current team got that message and responded.

Over the past week, the players were reminded that sometimes it’s not about wins or losses but how you play the game. And somewhere in all of this, the players started to have fun again. They’re enjoying playing the game that they love with their teammates.

When you’ve hit rock bottom there’s only one way to go. And the Louisville Basketball program has shown the college basketball world that we aren’t going away. The NCAA gave us lemons and we packed the Yum Center with thousands of screaming fans for the NIT. Our team has turned them lemons into a big old glass of Red lemonade and are a few games from winning the whole damn thing.

There is still meat on the bone and the Cardinals will face a Mississippi State team that is drinking some of their own lemonade. They took out the top seed Baylor on Sunday and will come into the Yum Center riding a lot of momentum.

The Cardinals are outscoring teams by 12 points and allowing just 40.2 percent shooting at home this season. Mississippi State is being outscored by nearly six points and scoring under 70 points on the road this season. They are a very efficient offensive team but if the Cardinals play defense like they have been it will be another great evening for the home team.

We have a chance at a redo. It’s going to be the last time we see all of this current team together playing on the Yum Center court. Hopefully, this final farewell will have a better ending. One game away from NYC.

#WinTheWholeDamnThing

official Stats and UofL Gameday Breakdown:

Go Cards!

New Years resolution… Fan Up


Chances are that if you are a sports fan then there are moments in your life where sports have transcended the competition on the field of play and provided defining moments in your life. Sports have healed relationships, created long lasting bonds, brought nations together, brought communities together, and sports have inspired people for generations. In some way or other sports will impact a person in some way in their life’s journey.


With all the positive moments that sports brings to our lives there are times that they bring a dose of reality. Yes, sometimes sports serve as a sobering reminder that we are only human, and humans can do horrible things. Sports have reminded Cardinal fans just how much it can relate to real life. And while it’s happened before I’ll never get used to watching human failure.


The Louisville Basketball Program is facing the consequences of human failure. The actions of a few threatens to put a damper on things for a while. Most of us were confident that we’d get a mulligan this season with the current team having so much talent, but expectations have been lowered after back to back losses to Purdue and Seton Hall and now blowout loss to UK.

Maybe we underestimated the toll all of this would have on the current group. 
Regardless we need to get behind this program and team more than we ever have. It’s time to Fan-Up. It’s easy to go to games, cheer and be loyal when things are going well but a true fan is the guy or gal that is sitting thru those tough times with the same passion. I learned a lesson in life back in 1988.


I was a zit faced teen living in rural America. My hometown had maybe two or three families that were UofL fans. One happened to be the owner of our local drug store. They made it a point to sell Louisville gear in their store. I had become a sports fan during my 6th grade year when Louisville won the Title during the 85-86 season. I watched them win it on an old Zenith console TV that was bigger than some cars nowadays.


My mom took me to Morgan & Thomas and got me geared up. My Cardinals were the National Champions and I was going to let my fandom be known to the world. I had a hat that was a big Cardinal Beak. It was hideous. I wore that damn thing to school every day. I was the only Louisville fan in the middle school that year.


The first day of my 7th grade year I was even more geared up. My mom did most of my school shopping at Morgan & Thomas. I couldn’t wait for basketball season to watch my Cardinals. The Cardinals would go 18-14 and not even make the tournament that season. 
During my middle school days, the Cardinals didn’t have much success over the Blue either. I was tormented by my friends every season when they lost that game. During 7th grade Rex Chapman scores 26 points in a complete ass whipping. Several of my friends wore that 34-point victory on their T-shirts that year. Yes, they were even making T-shirts back then.


My 8th grade year was a heartbreaking 1-point loss at Rupp… My friends were just as brutal and trust me they made it hard to be a Cardinal fan. Peer pressure is brutal at that age. But I stood strong and 30 years ago tonight on December 31st of 1988 on New Year’s Eve during my freshman year of high school “Never Nervous” scored 20 and my Cardinals finally beat the Cayuts by 22 points 97-75…

It was tough sitting thru those losses but man it made it that much sweeter when they finally won. I couldn’t wait to get back to school after holiday break and mock my friends. It was my turn and it felt good. Even better since I had stuck by them. 
It feels good to be on top all the time, but you’ll never forget that moment of success when things hadn’t been that great. I learned in middle school that loyalty to my favorite sports team felt good and I’ve never wavered since.


I’m 45 years old now and my Cardinals are struggling, and I got a lot of text from some of those same middle school friends Friday afternoon after the game. But unlike that silly 8th grade boy I know now that this stuff isn’t the end of the world. I have developed a lot of empathy towards others. I understand the human element involved. Those are young men who have been thru hell. They had their world turned upside down. They had people they trusted let them down. They didn’t ask for any of it and none of them were involved.


When rival crowds are screaming Hookers, FBI, and Cheaters to these guys during warm-ups… these guys are taking all the heat for something none of them had any part of. They are carrying that burden. As fans do we really want them to carry our burdens? As fans do we want to be just more folks who let them down?


I hope they roll thru conference play and make a title run in March. Not so I can gloat to my buddies but because I’d love to see this team succeed. They deserve some good. But if they don’t win another game I’ll be geared up, I’m going to go to games, and I’m going to cheer for the Cardinals like I have for over 30 years. And when our program finally does turn it around I can only imagine how good it will feel.


The Louisville Basketball Program needs you now. It’s time to Fan-Up. I wish you many blessings in 2018. Happy New Year and Go Cards!


Louisville Football feels fun again


This picture from the Courier-Journal over the weekend sums up what kind of weekend it was for the Louisville football program. A now healthy Malik Williams celebrating one of his two touchdowns with leaping Louie… He led the team in rushing with 180 yards. I can only imagine what could have been if he and Dae Williams had been healthy all season. This is a different offense with a solid ground attack. But better to have it now as not have it at all. This team is rolling…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it would probably take a thousand words to explain what having a player like Lamar Jackson has meant for the Louisville Program. He might be the most talented and gifted college football player of our time. And is a great young man to go along with all of that. Louisville fans have sure been spoiled. We went from having a player like Teddy who will forever be known and admired for how he won big games to Lamar who will always be known for and admired for how well he plays the game. And both are great people. He might not win the Heisman but we all know who the best player is.

It hasn’t been the season that we all expected but we are finally seeing the Louisville Football team that most of us expected this season. Over the last two games the offense has looked like a well-oiled machine and the defense is making the plays they were missing just a few weeks ago. Coach Sirmon was running the side-line yesterday like his pants were on fire and his defense is finally responding. It was tough to watch these guys lose those games while giving up all those points. But it sure has been fun watching them turn things around.

And talk about turning things around Coach Summers has transformed the Louisville offensive line. There was a picture floating around Social Media over the weekend titled “4 up and 4 down”. It showed the Louisville O-Line standing over 4 Syracuse defense Line-men as they lay helpless on the ground watching Lamar Jackson trot for one of his touchdowns. Last year year at this time that photo would have looked a lot different. This group went from giving up around 39 sacks this time last season to around 27 this season. That’s a big improvement. When interviewed at Media Day Coach Summers talked about his guys winning the battle zone. It’s obvious this unit is winning more of those battles now.

Everybody is healthy, and everything is clicking at the right time. The Cardinals will now head to Lexington seeking their 4th Straight Win on that field. I was on the field at the Georgia Dome when Lamar made his College debut and will be at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday when he plays his last regular season college football game. There are plenty of seats available on StubHub for all of you to join me.

Here is the link: Louisville vs Kentucky for The Governor’s Cup

Don’t miss the chance to celebrate the Red in the city of Blue. The Cup is coming home…

Louisville Basketball gets Some Big Man Insurance for the future


(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


The Louisville basketball program got some big man insurance for the future today with the news that UCONN 6-11 center Steven Enoch will transfer to play basketball for Coach Pitino and the Cardinals. Enoch visited the campus a few weeks ago and must have liked what he heard from the Louisville staff. The most important part of that conversation is how big of a role that Enoch could play in the 18-19 season. Enoch will sit out a year and then have two years of eligibility left.

Enoch is your typical Pitino type player. He was in the 2015 recruiting class with Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel, Ryan McMahon and Ray Spalding. And like those guys was labeled as a recruit with a lot of upside. Enoch was a 4* recruit and ranked #99 in the ESPN100. Here are what scouts said about Enoch in 2015:

Enoch is a late blooming big man who barely played high school basketball as an underclassman but has continued to both grow and develop at a rapid rate. He’s got good size with a naturally strong build and long arms. He’s a solid athlete who can change ends and play above the rim. His skill set has been well developed so that he is a consistent shooter from 15-18 feet and a threat from behind the three-point line. He’s starting to develop a jump hook over both shoulders with his back to the basket but also has a naturally high release point in or around the paint. He’s quick in catch-and-finish situations, a solid rebounder, and good shot-blocker.
Weaknesses:
He’s largely unproven against high level competition and still very much a work in progress. Consistency is arguably his biggest problem right now as he can disappear for long stretches at a time. He’s a product of a skill development generation and so while he can look great in a workout, he’s still learning to adjust to the many variables that game conditions and defenders create.
Bottom Line:
His recruiting has taken off by his long-term potential, now it becomes a matter of backing up his newfound reputation as he’ll have to turn potential into production on an increasingly frequent basis.

Enoch’s production and development at UCONN has been a slow go it seems, but having that year to work out with Coach Pitino and his staff will really be a big boost to that. I Look for Enoch to be a big-time contributor for the Cardinals in 18/19 season as well as his senior season 19/20… A great add to the program.

Here are Enoch’s stats during his two seasons at UCONN:


The Future of the Louisville Basketball Program will be on display this Weekend


Coach Pitino’s best recruiting class since being the head man at the University of Louisville will be on display this weekend. University of Louisville signees Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Lance Thomas and Jordan Nwora will all play in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic Presented by Papa John’s on Saturday, April 15 at Freedom Hall. The Basketball Classic game tips off at 7:00 p.m. Aside from being one of the best recruiting classes it very well could end up being one of the more important ones. This 2017 group will have a similar impact that the 2015 group has had on the program. The Cardinals will head into the 2017-18 College Basketball season as one of the favorites to win a National Title and this 2017 group could play an important part in that happening.

This Louisville class is ranked #8 by ESPN, #7 by 247Sports, #10 by Scout, and #7 by Rivals. Three of the Louisville signees Williams, Perry and Nwora are well within the top 100 of each recruiting service and Thomas finds himself just on the cusp. Malik Williams who is considered the real prize among this group is ranked 20th by Scout, 25th by 247Sports, 29th by ESPN, and 27th by Rivals. Darius Perry is ranked 75th by Scout, 69th by 247Sports, 51st by ESPN, and 94th by Rivals. Jordan Nwora is ranked 146th by Scout, 46th by 247Sports, 87th by ESPN, and 90th by Rivals. Lance Thomas is ranked 103rd by Scout, 76th by 247Sports, NR by ESPN, and 142nd by Rivals.

I’m really impressed by the length as well as the overall skill of this group and can’t wait to see that on display first hand on Saturday night. Malik Williams is a long 6-foot-11 big man with a high ceiling. According to various scouts he has some rim protecting ability on the defensive end, an emerging face-up skill set on the offensive end and most predict him to have some serious star potential down the road. Jordan Nwora is a 6-foot-8 combo-forward and according to various scouts one of the top shooters in the class of 2017, not just from behind the 3-point line but also with his ability to make tough shots off the dribble. Most say that in many ways he is tailor made for coach Rick Pitino’s system. Lance Thomas is another long and athletic 6-9 Power Forward who various scouts say has a lot of potential. They say that he is a long-term stock who has multi-faceted tools and high upside on both ends of the floor but isn’t going to be ready to put it all together for at least another year or so. This kid really has a nice basketball frame and the foundation is there. I can’t wait to see how coach Pitino molds him into a big-time player. Darius Perry by all accounts is a tough and gritty point guard who will probably be Quentin Snider’s back-up as a freshman before having every opportunity to run the show as a sophomore.

This recruiting class really has me excited about the future of the Louisville basketball program. I’m looking forward to them making their Louisville debut on Saturday night in Freedom Hall. I know you really can’t tell much about players in these all-star type events but having a chance to see them in person will give us some idea of just how talented this group really is and just how special they could be for the season ahead. I encourage all Louisville fans to get out to Freedom Hall Saturday and give these guys an early welcome into the Cardinal Nation. Tickets are $18 in advance ($20 at the door) and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com and by phone through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets for the game and 2017 Pegasus Pins will allow for free admission to the Horseshoe Foundation Derby Festival Night of the Future Stars, which will be held on Friday, April 14, at Indiana University Southeast.

I’ll have full coverage of the Derby Festival Basketball Classic on the site and over on the Cardinal’s Beak Fan Page. #L1C4