With Peyton Siva, Stephan Van Treese, and Mike Marra all entering their last season with the Cards, and the possible early departures of Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, and Gorgui Dieng, U of L could have as many as six scholarships available for the 2013 season. If Terry Rozier does not make it to campus, that number could jump to seven. Now, it is no guarantee at all all three underclassmen jump to the NBA, and just as possible that all stay. Pitino also recently said in an interview with Drew Deener that he believes there is a 70% chance Rozier qualifies. However, Pitino generally will recruit the best talent available, regardless of the scholarship situation. In 2013, the Cards have one commit in elite shooting guard Anton Gill (who apparently killed it at the NBPA Top 100 camp), who spoke with Ethan and Brent on Wednesday. With multiple scholarships that will be available, Pitino is also focusing his energy on several elite big men. Two big men the Cards could land are Kennedy Meeks and Dominic Woodson.
Before I get into this, it should be noted that I am NOT a recruiting expert and have absolutely no clue where these kids will go. I also know that there are other big men the Cards are recruiting, but I decided to focus on these two due. Both of these kids could commit, or neither of them could, but here is what we can expect from them if they ever do wear a Louisville uniform.
Kennedy Meeks is a 6″8, 255 lb center from Charlotte, NC (courtesy of Scout.com). For those that do not follow recruiting (oh, how I envy you), looking at Meeks one time, it is hard to see that the young man is an elite basketball player. He is very babyfaced, and most of that 255 lb frame is not made up of muscle. He reminds me of the old, out of shape guy at the gym that is just somehow better than everyone. You know the type. He’s the guy that gets picked to play just because you need an extra body, and then he just flat out embarrasses whoever is guarding him. He cannot run the court, his vertical is about four inches, but that does not matter when he is draining consecutive thirty foot sky hooks right in your freaking face. This analogy may or may not hit close to home with me.
Watching videos on Meeks, it is not hard to see why he is so coveted. He is an incredible passer for a big man and it is hard to envision any other in the class with better outlet passing skills. He also has incredibly soft hands, nice touch, and appears to have a quality basketball IQ as well. The big knock on him from most that have seen him is his lack of conditioning. Running the court in a fast-paced offense will be tough for him if he does not get into better shape. Bloggersodear.com, a Wake Forest blog, said of Meeks, “It is interesting because he is good for a running offense due to his outlet passing that leads to transition points, but he could also struggle in that type of system because of his inability to get up and down the court quickly for long periods of time.” He really needs the right system to succeed, but if there is one coach that can whip young, out-of-shape big men into shape, it is Rick Pitino. He has helped shape up Ellis Myles and Derrick Caracter (of course, the latter was not exactly a willing participant), and although few know this, Mike Marra came to Louisville weighing 347 lbs, but MAN, could he light it up from outside! One of those may not have actually happened. For those fans that are nervous that this could be another Derrick Caracter, think again. By all accounts, the young man is a stand up person with high character. Meeks is receiving interest from several other programs, including North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgetown, and North Carolina State. He is considered the 34th best player and 3rd best center in the class of 2013 by Scout.com, and a 4-star recruit. Here he is in action
Dominic Woodson is a 6″9, 240 lb center from Round Rock, TX who plays huge inside. On film, Woodson will take it to just about anyone in the paint, and does so with authority. He plays with intensity in the paint, and also has a very nice pullup outside shot for a big man. He may need a little polishing up on his post moves, as his videos do not show much diversity in that area. There are very few plays with him facing away from the basket, and that is something he is going to have to master to be a dominant center for a big time program. However, despite what he may be lacking in that area, he is still aggressive in the paint. Eric Bossi of ScarletNation.com said Woodson is a player “who likes to trade elbows, throw hip checks and use his physicality (and has) a level of skill that matches his strength.” He even went so far as to compare him to NBA star Zack Randolph. At the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Lexington-Herald Leader writer Jerry Tipton reported he was the leading scorer after three days, and only two other players had more rebounds than he did in that time. One interesting tidbit Tipton mentioned about Woodson is that he lived in Louisville until he was 14, and told the writer, “That’s my home city. I’d like to go back.” Woodson is ranked as the 36th best player in the 2013 class, the 4th best center, and a 4-star prospect. Here he is in action.
Other bigs the Cards are recruiting are 4-star Texas center Karviar Shepherd, who recently had a great visit to Louisville, 4-star center Marcus Lee out of California, and African-born 4-star center Moses Kingsley (who roomed with Anton Gill at the Top 100 camp, as he stated in his interview with Brent and Ethan). All of these kids are high major players, and if the Cards even land one of them, fans should be excited. While I personally would love Woodson, a Louisville-born scoring maching with a killer mentality, I would love to see any of them wearing a Cardinal uniform alongside Anton Gill in 2013.