While we endure this full week without any Cardinal basketball I thought now would be a good time to take a look at next years excellent recruiting class. Coach Pitino has assembled what I personally consider to be the most well rounded recruiting class he has had since coming to Louisville. This class is extremely versatile, athletic and tall. And most importantly every position is addressed. I think the members of this recruiting class fit perfectly with this years Freshman and barring any offseason surprises should set us up next year to have a very young but talented team with some veteran leadership and experience provided from potential returnees Chris Jones and Wayne Blackshear. Without further ado I offer you my opinion on this years recruits.
Shaqquan Aaron (Seattle, Washington – Rainier Beach) SG/SF 6’8 175lbs
Consensus 4* Recruit (Ranked #27 nationally by Rivals.com)
– Shaqquan is generally regarded as the most talented of the class. This is in large part due to his frame which at 6’8, 175lbs and only 17yrs old has him being compared to a poor mans Kevin Durant. Aaron can play nearly every position on the floor but is ideally suited to play the 2/3 as an excellent spot up 3 point shooter and slashing wing player. He possesses above average ball handling skills and court vision that make him the perfect fit for Pitino’s system. Of any recent Louisville players I would have to say he compares to a more offensively polished version of Terrence Williams. Over the summer Aaron played in a Seattle Pro-Am event in which he garnered much praise for his excellent defense on Kevin Durant. With a long and lanky frame, Aaron can also drop bombs from downtown all day long. I am really excited to get this kid in a Cardinal uniform. The biggest issue is how long he will be in that uniform as a lot of scouts have him projected as a 1st round talent after either his Freshman or as I suspect, his Sophomore season. Shaqquan is rated as a 5* prospect by 247sports.com.
Quentin Snider (Louisville, Kentucky – Ballard) PG 6’1″ 165lbs
Consensus 4* Recruit (Ranked 31st overall nationally by Rivals.com)
– Snider had an up and down recruitment process. Q has grown up in Louisville as a huge Cardinals fan which led to his committing to UofL as a Freshman in High School. Unfortunately he withdrew his verbal commitment just months before the early signing period as he was concerned with the amount of playing time he would be able to earn due to the commitments that Coach Pitino had received at that time. Alas after weighing all of his options and briefly committing to Illinois, Snider eventually made the decision he and his family were most comfortable with and at the last minute pulled a shocker by signing his LOI to attend the University of Louisville. In Sniders Junior season of high school he led Ballard to the state championship game where they would lose in a close contest to current UK freshman Dominique Hawkins team. Q is the definition of a floor general and reminds me very much of a slightly less athletic version of Peyton Siva but much further advanced offensively. Snider can drive past most defenders and score in the paint or bring it down and rain three’s down with ease. With similar size, quickness and offensive awareness as Siva, Q has all of the tools to thrive in Coach Pitinos system and compete for the starting Point Guard position immediately.
Jaylen Johnson (Ypsilanti, Michigan – Ypsilanti HS) PF/SF 6’9 210lbs
Consensus 4* Prospect (Ranked #56 overall nationally by Rivals.com)
– Jaylen Johnson is an intriguing prospect. He is a little on the raw side but has a terrific upside. At 6’9 he can play both the Small Forward and Power Forward positions. As a SF he is taller and stronger than most other small forwards he will face in college. As a PF he is quick and agile in the post with the ability to step out and drain jump shots from the perimeter. He could develop into a very nice weapon to combat the 2-3 zone if he can master the elbow jumper. He has above average ball handling skills for his size which will help to mold him perfectly into Pitinos system. I forsee Johnson primarily playing the PF position at UofL and using his athleticism to develop much in the mold of Earl Clark. Jaylen compares relatively well to Earl Clark who as you may remember was a consensus 5* prospect coming out of New Jersey as a Freshman.
Chinanu Onuaku (Marlboro, Maryland – Riverdale Baptist) C 6’10 225lbs
Consensus 4* Prospect (Ranked #65 overall nationally by Rivals.com)
– Chinanu is one of the most important recruits in this class. He fills our biggest need which is for a big body in the middle. At 6’10 225lbs and still growing Onuaku is physically ready to contribute immediately for the Cardinals. I anticipate he will get quality minutes from the time he steps foot on campus. His brother you may remember was a quality starter for Syracuse who eventually ended up playing briefly in the NBA. Chinanu is regarded as being more talented than his brother both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor at this stage of his basketball career. He is known for both his rebounding and shot blocking but is rumored to also have quite the nice touch around the basket. His size alone will be a welcome addition to the team next year to help Louisville improve in multiple categories including rebounding, blocked shots and interior defense.
Matz Stockman (Canary Islands, Spain – Canarias Basketball Academy) C 7’2 215lbs
Consensus 3*/4* prospect depending on the recruiting service (Unranked by Rivals.com)
– Stockman is the wildcard of this class. His ratings are all over the place ranking anywhere from unrated by Rivals to a 4* prospect just out of the top 100 by ESPN. His size is absolutely phenomenal at 7’2. He does however have a slender build for his size but with the kind of wingspan he possesses, not much bulk is needed to be a force down low in the college ranks. The primary reason Stockman’s prospect ratings are all over the place is because he is a foreign player who just recently started playing basketball in the states. ESPN is the only major recruiting service to have gotten a full scouting report on him at an event in Connecticut in late Fall of 2013. I’m not sure that Stockman compares to any former Louisville players, from what I have read about him the closest I could compare him to would be a taller version of David Padgett. Another large unknown is exactly how much time Stockman will see early in his career at UofL. Little is really known about him other than the fact that Coach Pitino saw him play and thought highly enough of his skill set to offer him a scholarship and also that apparently ESPN scouts were impressed enough by him that after only seeing him play once they elevated him from unranked to 4* status immediately.
Overall Recruiting Class Review:Louisville’s 2014 basketball recruiting class is likely complete and all players have signed their letters of intent meaning they will definitely be enrolling at UofL. This class is highly regarded by all recruiting services with rankings of #5 overall (ESPN), #7 overall (Rivals) and #8 overall (Scout and 247Sports). With most high profile prospects already committed in the early period these rankings are likely not to change a whole lot, basically locking up Louisville to have another consensus Top 10 recruiting class. If there is anything Rick Pitino has proven recently with back to back Final Fours and a National Championship it is that if you are a good coach you can achieve the highest form of success without one and done players and #1 rated recruiting classes. With that said this class does not lack in the talent department from a protypical floor general PG prospect in Snider to a 6’8 Wing from Seattle in Aaron and a 6’10 shot blocking and rebounding big man in Onuaku. This class is primed to be Pitino’s crown jewel. When you factor in last years top 10 recruiting class with current freshman 5* PG Terry Rozier, 4* SG Anton Gill , 4* PF Akoy Agau and 3* C Mangok Mathiang you can easily see a nucleus of 9 very talented players who will all be freshman/sophomores next season providing us with a young team that can grow, mature and ultimately continue the excellent tradition and winning ways of Louisville basketball.
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