June 21, 2004
At a time when there has been so much controversy in the college basketball coaching fraternity (Jim O'Brien's dismissal from Ohio State and Bob Huggins' suspension from Cincinnati), here is a positive story for a big-name college coach.
Louisville's Rick Pitino called me recently and I enjoyed hearing the jubilation in his voice. He was excited because he hit a grand slam in recruiting recently.
Pitino signed a big-time point guard named Andre McGee. All reports indicate he has great quickness and shooting ability that will help him fit in with the Cardinals. Then came word of a verbal commitment from a 6-9 forward named Amir Johnson out of Westchester HS in Los Angeles, a school that has an excellent track record of producing talent. He also may have hit the jackpot with guard Terrence Williams from Seattle.
One key reason for Louisville's recruiting success out west is the presence of Reggie Theus on the coaching staff. The former NBA star and UNLV All-America has played a big part in the recruiting process. He's a star on the horizon in the coaching fraternity just waiting for an athletic director to give him a chance. His magical touch as a player now comes through on the sidelines as he learns from a future Hall of Famer like Pitino.
If it wasn't enough to land those scholastic stars, Pitino added an All-Marco Polo in 6-11 David Padgett from Kansas. He surprised Bill Self and company by saying farewell to Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
After announcing he was leaving Lawrence, Padgett was being recruited heavily by the likes of UCLA and North Carolina, but he instead opted to join the Cardinals. The young man is excited about playing for a master motivator like Pitino.
These additions are big news after Louisville lost Sebastian Telfair and Donta Smith to the NBA draft. Pitino still has a lot to smile about with Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean leading the way for the upcoming campaign.
Now the question is, will this group show up in Louisville for the start of the 2005-06 season? If they do, Pitino will be loaded with talent on his roster.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he has been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.