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