Raashaan Myers — @raashaan
For new UofL head basketball coach Chris Mack job #1 when taking over was recruiting the current guys on the team to stay put as he steadied a Cardinal program that was in complete disarray. He did that as well as anyone could have hoped only losing rising sophomore Lance Thomas to a transfer to Memphis University. But even as he was securing the present he had a laser focus on securing the future as well hitting the ground running to put together the best possible recruiting class for 2019. Mack understood the importance of letting recruit know that not only was it okay to commit to Louisville, but that UofL was the place they want to be. While many said taking over in the wake of UofL’s third major scandal under former coach Rick Pitino that Mack would be lucky to land a top 30 recruiting class it looks like that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Having already landed a commitment from Fayetteville, NC sharpshooter Josh Nickelberry it is looking more likely Mack will be pushing for a top 10 haul with his first full recruiting class. Here is a look through my crystal ball for who I believe will UofL will snag signatures from this recruiting cycle joining current commit Nickelberry.
The biggest fish out there literally and figuratively for Coach Mack is the Irish native Igiehon. At Xavier the center position has always been a priority under Chris Mack and Igiehon has been a top priority for this staff as they have built a strong relationship with the uber-energetic big man. Coach Mack was front and center all spring and summer watching Igiehon making sure to let him know how badly he wants him to wear the Red and Black. Aidan would be a centerpiece player for any recruiting class in the country but securing a commitment from him for UofL would be program changing. With a game that reminds me so much of former Cardinal Montrezl Harrell with relentless energy and effort as well as a developing skill package showing great vision, passing, and midrange jumpshot. Of all the guys in this 2019 class this will be the most crucial recruitment to watch unfold. After making an unofficial visit in June expect to see Igiehon make an official visit to UofL some time this fall and possibly for the huge recruiting weekend of September 29th for the Florida State home game.
Confidence level to land a commit: 80%
There was no more consistent offensive threat this summer AAU session than Rocket Watts. Always known for his ability to fill it up Watts took it to another level as he established himself as one of the being 3 or 4 scorers in the class of 2019. His 43 point scoring outburst at the Peach Invitational put Watts on the forefront of everyone’s mind and after his impressive showing in Georgia he backed it up with in Orlando with Chris Mack watching almost every dribble. If Igiehon is the program changer inside for UofL then Watts is the show piece for the perimeter for 2019. Add to that Rocket’s favorite player in the NBA is former Card Terry Rozier who actually showed him some love on Twitter and you can see why Mack has a lot working in his favor to secure the commitment if he can get Rocket to leave the state of Michigan. Tom Izzo and Michigan State have been on Rocket all summer but it did seem to tail off near the end and Michigan has seemingly dropped off all together. Does this indicate a want to leave the state for Watts? Several people in the know say that’s the case. We shall see.
Confidence level to land a commit: 80%
The one time UofL commit Johnson decided to reopen his recruitment in the wake of the Rick Pitino firing and it definitely was the right more. I never have been a fan of long time commitments because the kids may not continue to improve as expected and also the recruiting process only comes around once. Kids should enjoy the process as it seems to motivate them to improve and put on a show for coaches. Johnson has always been an efficient and cerebral player on the court and he continued that during the July evaluation process but he started to look to create more for himself as the period ended and was playing his best ball at the end of the summer dropping some big offensive numbers in the process. I liked seeing that out of him because sometimes to garner the attention you deserve and to get fans and recruiting gurus excited is to be a little selfish. While Johnson is an excellent teammate and unselfish playmaker I believe he wanted to make a point that he can take over when he needs to much like he did scoring 30 points in the Kentucky-Indiana Junior game in June. While it seems that former IU coach and current Georgia head man Tom Crean has made some serious headway in trying to get involved with Johnson’s recruitment recently Chris Mack continued to make him a priority and I think that was the right move and will pay dividends at the end of the day. Not only is David Johnson a local kid but he is a special offensive talent that can play effectively both at the PG spot or off the ball on the wing and impact the game with his playmaking. He is a must get for UofL in 2019.
Confidence level to land a commit: 90%
Withers who is a good friend if current Cardinal commit Josh Nickelberry has been on commitment watch since his visit to UofL back in June. A talented combo forward with the good motor and the ability to make plays off the dribble as well shoot with range beyond the 3 point arc Withers is the prototype stretch 4 man that Chris Mack will employ at Louisville. Louisville has continued to show Jaelyn the love and followed him closely during the July evaluation period and he rewarded them with solid play and reminded them why they are hot after his signature. A dynamic combination of size and skill he is a guy that can give defenses some of the same problems I would expect current Cardinal Jordan Nwora will give teams this fall. Unless something unforeseen happens late in this recruitment I do think Coach Mack’s persistence will be rewarded.
Confidence level to land a commit: 95%
This 6th spot in this 2019 recruiting class is completely a wildcard selection. There are several ways that the staff can go with this spot but considering how hard the staff was pushing for a true wing scoring forward in this class I will look at those guys with this pick. I am going with Williamson as I expect Kahlil Whitney who is the top target on the board to end up down the road in Lexington joining Dontaie Allen. Samuell was a surprise unofficial visitor in June and had an extremely positive visit to the Derby City the trip really seemed to open his eyes to UofL as a viable option. Kansas currently has every selection in the 247 Sports crystal ball for Williamson but he was made a priority by the coaching staff in July and he really seems to be considering UofL as the place to call home. A ready-made scorer who is excellent from the perimeter and has the ability to score at all three levels he would give UofL a go to type scorer to take over the spot currently held by V.J. King.
Confidence level to land a commit: 50%
While this is my 6 man class I am predicting for UofL there are several guys to keep an eye on just in case any of these players decide to go elsewhere. Here are some of the other names to keep an eye on as players begin to set their official visits up and make commitments ahead of the November signing period:
Mouth of Wilson, VA
Los Angeles, CA
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