Less that one week after news leaked out of the University of Louisville basketball program that freshman forward Shaqquan Aaron was indeed staying with the team, today we learned that he’s going to do just the opposite and transfer after all. The news is a bit surprising given the events that unfolded last week when it appeared that, despite the overwhelming consensus that he was going to leave, Aaron decided to stick it out and take the challenge laid out in front of him by Rick Pitino. However, the Louisville coach lamented several times throughout the season that the 6’7 Seattle native simply wasn’t working hard enough and perhaps wasn’t a “Louisville man.” Now, obviously that’s not the first time Pitino has issued a not-so-subtle provocation to one of his players, but this is the first time in recent memory that a player of Aaron’s magnitude (he was a unanimous top 30 player according to all of the major scouting services last year) backed down from such a challenge.
University of Louisville freshman guard/forward Shaqquan Aaron will leave the Cardinals’ program at the conclusion of the spring semester.
“We are in total agreement with Shaqquan transferring and we wish him the best,” said UofL Coach Rick Pitino.
Aaron averaged 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in 23 games as a freshman. He totaled a season-best 11 points and five rebounds at Wake Forest on Jan. 4, but scored 15 points for the remainder of the season. He had to sit out the Cardinals’ first nine games of the season due to an NCAA eligibility issue.
The 6-7 wing from Seattle, Wash., led Rainier Beach High School to the 2014 Washington Class 3A state championship. A two-time first-team AP Class 3A all-state selection and the state player of the year as a senior, he was ranked among the nation’s top 35 high school prospects by most media outlets.
Truth is, there are probably a multitude of reasons for Aaron’s sudden (?) change of heart. First, the chemistry between he and Pitino just never seemed to be there. Aaron got to school late, was delayed in qualifying (through no fault of his own) and he never quite seemed to respond to Pitino’s coaching methods. We’ve found out over time that, even if a player is somewhat talent-restricted (hello Mangok Mathiang), if he works hard in the weight room and is a gym rat, he can ascend into the rotation, regardless. Second, multiple reporters, including the Courier’s Jeff Greer, have cited that they believe Aaron’s decision was also influenced due to Louisville recruiting prep star Maverick Rowan and Drexel transfer Damion Lee. If this is true, than I’m sorry, as much as I believed Aaron had potential and a high ceiling down the road, anyone who backs away from competition simply isn’t a good fit here. Maybe Russ Smith said it best:
Transferring schools won't get you out of doing the stuff you was supposed to be getting done at your former school.
— Russ Ruby Rhod Smith (@Sir_Saudade) April 8, 2015
Although it didn’t work out here, we still obviously wish Aaron the best and hope he lands in the best spot possible.