Louisville Basketball: Jordan Nwora is Chris Mack’s Biggest Recruit to Date


With Louisville basketball still in a transition period, coach Chris Mack’s biggest sales job to date was keeping rising sophomore Jordan Nwora.

Jordan Nwora was grossly undervalued in his freshman season at Louisville. This is not a “hot take” as the kids call it these days. It is a well-established fact, and commonly held opinion that David Padgett was not able to utilize the 6’7″ wing nearly enough throughout the season. If there was one common critique of the interim head coach during his brief stint at the helm, it was this.

Nwora, who was a top 100 player coming out of high school, was recruited by Rick Pitino, but was forced into a tough situation by scandals and firings. No matter what, it was nearly impossible for the incoming freshman to get out of his scholarship.

Players hung around for a year under Padgett for a team that scraped and clawed, but ultimately puttered out, narrowly missing the NCAA tournament. It was a commonly-held opinion that most of the Cardinals team would head for greener pastures after the season. After all, the program was on the down swing. Almost certainly on a ship destined for stormy NCAA sanctions waters again after a lengthy FBI probe finally concludes, the young Cards would have to play for a second coach that they didn’t choose to play for, at a school that is desperately trying to put some band aids over bullet holes.

The leader of the pack headed for the exits was Nwora. The superbly talented, underutilized Nwora undoubtedly had whispers in his ear from other suitors. A player of his caliber who didn’t receive nearly enough playing time on a team that didn’t even make the tournament could surely be getting more out of his game.

Even if his defense or basketball IQ wasn’t perfect as a rookie, Nwora showed flashes of brilliance in his first year campaign. As we wrote earlier in the summer, Nwora was about as good as an offensive weapon as you could ask for when he saw playing time.

He recorded 18 points in 20 minutes against George Mason, 10 points in 14 minutes vs. Southern Illinois, 15 in 16 minutes against Boston College, 16 points in 21 minutes against Georgia Tech, 17 in 21 against Middle Tennessee. Every single time Nwora saw significant minutes, he provided production, and did it in a hurry.

Nwora has yet to have a game where he was so off that it warranted benching. That is rare of a player 13 months removed from high school graduation.

His production has continued into the summer. Showcasing an improved frame, Nwora has been on fire while representing Nigeria in FIBA World Cup qualifying rounds. It’s just Nigeria basketball, and the competition has been inferior to high major DI thus far. Still, Nwora has already broken the record for most points scored in a Nigerian national game with 36 points. He also chipped in 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Nwora is averaging over 21 points per game thus far, and looks every bit the talent that he has been projected to be.

That’s why before Chris Mack even stepped to the podium for his introductory press conference at Louisville, he made it a priority so secure Nwora.

It’s unlikely that was an easy feat. Nwora spent an entire season knowing his capabilities, and expecting to be wearing a different college team’s uniform from 2018 going forward.

But Mack had a different plan. While the 2019 recruiting class will be much more talked about, Louisville is ready to compete next year. A trio of incoming grad transfers will feel newer to Louisville faithful, but Nwora is the biggest steal of the class.

Next: 3 Cardinals Could Fly up NBA Draft Boards

It’s Nwora’s turn to steal the show.