With this season’s magical run ending in the Final Four on Saturday, it’s never too soon to look ahead to next year. The Cards bid farewell to seniors Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, and Jared Swopshire while they welcome in transfer Luke Hancock and 4-star prospect Terry Rozier. Kuric scored 979 points with a career average of 8.3, Chris Smith 714; 9.5, and Jared Swopshire 425; 3.9. These 3 seniors accounted for 34% of the points scored this season as well as 28% of the rebounds. Who fills Kuric and Chris Smith’s shoes? One could surmise that Hancock would slid in to Kyle’s spot and Blackshear for Chris. Reports this season indicated that Luke Hancock can play and will be a major contributor in his two years here.
Assuming everyone on the roster does the smart thing and returns (i.e. Behanan and Siva) as they are expected, this roster will be stacked. Who will start?
6’0 Siva (9 ppg.; 5 assists pg.) at the 1; 6’5 Blackshear (2.5 ppg; 1.4 rpg.) at the 2; 6’6 Hancock (10.9 ppg; 4.6 rpg; 4.3 assists pg. @ George Mason) at the 3; 6’6 Behanan (9 ppg; 7.5 rpg.) at the 4; and 6’11 Dieng (9 ppg.; 9 rpg.) at the 5. This starting line-up gives you experience, athleticism, and size.
The reserves will be extremely talented as well as Russ Smith (11 ppg; 2.5 rpg; 2.2 steals pg.) will be the super sixth man again next year. You can also envision a scenario where he could actually start at the 2 with Blackshear at the 3 while having Hancock come off the bench. Guards Kevin Ware, Mike Marra (5 ppg; 27% 3-point FGs for career), and Terry Rozier figure to get some clock as they are capable of playing multiple positions. Ware can play the 1-2-3, Marra the 2-3, and Rozier the 1-2. Another player Pitino wants to play more is Angel Nunez, a 6’7 shooter who needs to add muscle, but can play the 2 or 3. You can’t forget Elisha Justice, who has shown he is capable of playing spot duty and not turning the ball over. In the front court, SVT figures to be back add some rebounding help along with Zach Price.