Rivals Roundtable: Louisville candidates, McDonald's AA Game, commits
Most Mondays, Rivals.com dives into a trio of questions concerning college basketball and college basketball recruiting. This time around, Rivals national recruiting director Rob Cassidy is joined by hoops gurus Travis Graf and Dan McDonald to address the questions about the right man for the Louisville job, the McDonald's All-American Game rosters and which early commitment might be a steal.
2023 Rankings: Rivals150
2024 Rankings: Top 40
1. WITH THE CHRIS MACK ERA OVER AT LOUISVILLE, WHO SHOULD BE NEXT TO LEAD THE CARDINALS?
Cassidy: I’d like to see Eric Musselman get a look. Is he ready to leave Arkansas? Who knows, but he’s proven capable of executing a rebuild, which seems important here. Musselman, who has been around as both a college coach and an NBA guy, has recruiting ties to all corners of the country (and beyond), which would serve a program like Louisville. The fact that he’s long been known as a wizard in the transfer market makes him even more appealing in the modern age. I think he’d win big at a place with Louisville's resources.
Graf: For me, it has to be Kenny Payne. Payne has endless connections in the basketball world and would consistently land the most top-end talent that Louisville has ever had. It doesn’t hurt his case at all that prominent alumni and boosters are all in on him being the next man up for the Cardinals. He also checks a ton of boxes for the Louisville fan base – recruiting ability, player development and pro connections just to name a few.
McDonald: In an ideal world, you’ll never convince me that Bruce Pearl isn’t the best candidate for this job. He’s crushed it at every job he’s been at and currently has Auburn, I repeat, Auburn as the No. 1 team in the country. I do understand that Louisville had serious NCAA issues under Rick Pitino and more minor issues under Chris Mack, so maybe Pearl’s past NCAA issues could be a problem here, but it wouldn’t be if I were making the call. Giving Pearl one of the best jobs in America in an ACC that feels pretty wide open for the foreseeable future would be scary.
2. IF YOU COULD ADD ONE ELIGIBLE PLAYER TO THIS YEAR’S MCDONALD’S ALL-AMERICAN GAME, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Cassidy: From a selfish standpoint, I’ll go with Xavier signee Tyrell Ward. The 6-foot-5 forward has an NBA body and plays with a chip on a shoulder. He’s one of the most exciting prospects in the country to watch and treats every game like it's the most important one he’s ever played. I like players that talk a little on the floor and bring some swagger to the table. Ward fits that mold while being incredibly effective as a scorer and a rebounder.
Graf: Jalen Hood-Schifino. The Indiana pledge has been on an absolute tear in recent weeks for Montverde Academy. He’s been terrific operating in the mid-range, getting to his spots and consistently finishing from multiple levels. The 6-foot-5 guard has some of the best scoring ability that you’ll find anywhere in the 2022 class and has done a very solid job running point for Montverde in Skyy Clark’s absence. Hood-Schifino has also performed well on every big stage and in every big matchup so far this season.
McDonald: I’m a big believer in North Carolina-bound point guard Seth Trimble and would have liked to have seen him get the nod for the McDonald’s All-American game. He’s such a perfect point guard with his ability to both score and facilitate, and I also like his competitive nature. I think he would have thrived in this setting not just because of his skill level but his intangibles too.
3. WHICH ALREADY-COMMITTED UNDERCLASSMAN WILL LOOK LIKE A STEAL FOR THE PROGRAM THAT LANDED HIM DOWN THE ROAD?
Cassidy: Stanford came into the Southeast and absolutely stole point guard Kanaan Carlyle before the bluebloods came calling, and that’ll pay off for the Cardinal. Of course, nobody needs to have the appeal of Stanford explained to them, but the fact that the deal was done so early was a bit surprising. Carlyle has been red hot since pulling the trigger on his verbal pledge and will likely move up in the next rankings update.
Graf: Ohio State commit George Washington III burst onto the scene last year when he moved to Louisville from Texas after previously being homeschooled. With limited exposure, he slowly crept up the rankings and found himself garnering more national attention. Ohio State was in on him at the beginning of his upward trajectory and had a head start over the other high-major programs that came calling, some of which didn’t have a chance to offer before he gave his commitment to the Buckeyes. Washington has always been a scorer, but has really expanded his game in the last 12 months. He projects as a perfect combo guard for Ohio State’s system.
McDonald: UConn’s staff going into Georgia and beating out several top programs in the South to get Stephon Castle is a massive recruiting win. The 6-foot-6 guard keeps getting better and better every time I see him. With his size, skill and versatility, I really believe he has a chance to be an All-Big East player and eventually play in the NBA if he stays on his current trajectory.