After controversy-filled year, Louisville will look for consistency next season

Our recruit and return series continues with a look at the Louisville Cardinals, who did not make the NCAA tournament. Here’s a look at what 2018-19 may bring:

Possible 2018-19 starting 5:

G: V.J. King

G: Darius Perry

F: Deng Adel

F: Ray Spalding

C: Malik Williams

Who is lost: The veterans who have held this team together -- Anas Mahmoud and Quentin Snider -- are gone. But what's lost for Louisville goes beyond personnel. Last year's top recruit, Brian Bowen, never played a game with the Cardinals. This year's class was undone by the scandal, too, with Anfernee Simons and Courtney Ramey both decommitting in the wake of the FBI turmoil. And while the 2017-18 campaign has been a slog through tons of off-court drama, the real burdens of this scandal have yet to be felt.

Who is added: At this point, there's nothing set in stone, but what Louisville should be hoping to add in 2018-19 is simply stability -- in the administration, on the coaching staff, and most of all, in the headlines. When you've dug yourself into a deep hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging.

What it means for next season: The 2018-19 campaign will be a true test of wills for Louisville. There is undoubtedly still talent remaining, and the fight the team has shown this year amid so many negative headlines should offer encouragement. If all the chaos can safely be behind the program and a stable coaching staff is in place with the backing of administration, the rebuilding job can begin.

Trending: Down. If the program makes the right decisions in the near term, some of these black clouds will begin to disappear. And the more the FBI investigation widens, the less Louisville's crimes seem particularly unique. But the problem is still one of stability for a program that has lost an AD, a coach and a number of key recruits. That takes time to fix, even amid the best of circumstances.