Just three days before the official start of the 2014-2015 basketball season, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino received some devastating news this afternoon. During a press conference at his South Carolina high school, 5-star point guard Perry Dozier committed to the Game Cocks over UofL, Michigan and North Carolina. Dozier would have been the 4th player to give his pledge to Louisville for 2015, potentially joining an already stellar class that includes shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, small forward Deng Adel and power forward Ray Spalding. Without a shred of doubt, had the Cards landed Dozier it would have been one of the best recruiting classes of Pitno’s tenure. But the Cards swung and missed on an elite guard – again – and will now likely shift all of their backcourt focus towards the class of 2016.
Dozier has long been a target for the Louisville program, but the staff temporarily stopped recruiting him after they received a commitment from fellow 5-star guard Antonio Blakeney. However, after Blakeney decommitted shortly thereafter, Pitino put the figurative full-court press on Dozier and his family and made him their absolute top priority. Dozier’s father, Perry Sr., repeatedly said there was no ill-will towards the staff for briefly halting their recruiting efforts. Rather than perceiving it as a slight, the family understood that by taking Blakeney’s commitment, there simply wasn’t any more room. And though that was likely the case, in the end, Dozier decided to stay home and play for the Gamecocks. But unlike the Blakeney situation, which wreaked of foul play and tampering from Nike AAU handlers, by all accounts Dozier is a good kid whose family ran a clean recruitment. Louisville simply lost out, fair and square.
The good news, however, is that despite missing on Dozier and Blakeney, this is still a really damn good 2015 class for Louisville. In fact, according to 247 Sports’ Composite Rankings, the Cards still hold the best recruiting class in the ACC. Nationally, UofL is ranked third overall behind only Arizona and Texas A&M. So, basically, things could be a lot worse. Again, with three likely impact players on the way in Mitchell, Spalding and Adel, it doesn’t appear that Louisville is going to drop off anytime soon. The backcourt will need to be enhanced in 2016, obviously, but the promise of immediate playing time for big time recruits should make Pitino’s program an attractive destination. Losing Dozier certainly stings, but the future is still really bright for the Cardinals.