With arguably the best backcourt recruiting class for 2014 in the fold, Rick Pitino has been tracking down many of the nation’s top frontcourt prospects on the AAU circuit this summer. One of those prospects, New York City power forward Angel Delgado, will be playing his senior season at Huntington Prep, announced head coach Rob Fulford on Twitter today. Delgado, a 4-star power forward currently ranked 64th overall by 247Sports recently said that Louisville was the program recruiting him the hardest. Fulford, his new head coach, had been rumored as a potential replacement for former assistant and current UMKC head coach Kareem Richardson on Rick Pitino’s staff before Mike Balado was hired and expressed interest in the job. He even went as far to say he would take the job if offered. Along with the fact he coached former Card Gorgui Dieng (who Fulford surely saw develop under Pitino), his appreciation for Rick Pitino and the Louisville program may help the Cards’ chances in the end.
While Delgado is not as highly rated as some of other frontcourt prospects Pitino has been tracking like Trey Lyles, Goodluck Okonoboh and Cliff Alexander, his low ranking is more due to the fact that he has only been in the country for about a year. This July on the AAU circuit is really the first good glimpse scouts have had of him, and after his impressive reviews in July, he is most likely set for a big rise in the next set of rankings. He was praised by those who saw him in action for his non-stop motor, admirable work ethic and his relentless rebounding ability. He also has an impressive turnaround fadeaway jumper. He is the type of player that can thrive under Rick Pitino, but the one school that could stand in the way of the Cards is Kentucky, as the Lexington-Herald Leader’s Ben Roberts explains.
Delgado is a native of the Domincan Republic, whose team John Calipari coached two years ago. The one commitment in UK’s 2014 class, 7-footer Karl Towns, is also a native of the DR and a friend of Delgado’s, and UK assistant Orlando Antigua is himself a DR native with a good relationship with the player. Then there is the connection with Delgado’s AAU coach, Dana Dingle. Dingle was a high school teammate of Antigua’s and played on John Calipari’s UMASS team that lost to Kentucky in the Final Four in 1996 (which was later vacated, anyway). UK, though, has yet to offer the 6-9, 215 lb. rebounding machine and at this point, it is unclear how serious the Cats are about Delgado.
Despite UK’s connections, UofL and Rick Pitino are not backing down. While the top 5 overall player Lyles appears to remain Pitino’s top frontcourt prospect, the coach’s interest in Delgado is genuine. He is an ideal Pitino-type of player and should the Cards get lucky and land the tandem of Delgado and Okonoboh, the Cards could end up with 2 of the most aggressive paint dwellers in the class of 2014. In going along with the committed backcourt trio of Shaquuan Aaron, Jaquan Lyle and Quentin Snider, Louisville may have its most impressive and complete class of the Pitino era.