Louisville basketball: Cards still could add five-star guard for 2020

Louisville basketball is still in a great spot with one potential guard target for the current recruiting class.

When it comes to the struggles that Chris Mack and the Louisville basketball program faced last summer and fall during the primary recruiting window, make of it what you will. After identifying their top targets in the class of 2020, the Cardinals staff spent months and even years building relationships in hopes of putting together another extremely special class.

Those efforts proved to be futile, as Louisville fans got their hopes up time and time again only to be let down when players like Caleb Love, DJ Steward, Hunter Dickinson, Jaemyn BrakefieldJalen Terry, and others committed elsewhere. It left fans wondering whether Mack could continually recruit at the highest level which led to a lot of questions and quite honestly a lot of criticism.

No matter where you fell on the recruiting conundrum, there’s no denying that Mack rebounded strongly from Louisville’s misses, putting together a group of three signees that have the Cards set up to compete at the top of the ACC for the next several years.

It started with four-star wing and the nation’s top junior college prospect Jay Scrubb, who saw his recruitment blow up after a big freshman season at John A. Logan College which included being named first-team All-NJCAA and being invited to the U-19 USA Basketball tryouts as the only junior college player. There are still questions about whether Scrubb will actually ever play for Louisville, considering his name has been on NBA Mock Draft boards all year. It seems likely that Scrubb will declare and test the waters, but should be wearing the red and black next season.

Next came another fairly local player in D’Andre Davis, a wing built like Dwayne Sutton, who chose the Cards after committing from Nebraska. He’ll bring a new level of toughness to Louisville as well as the ability to develop into a lethal scorer and defender.

Finally, Louisville landed its second Kentucky product and a legacy commit in rising big man JJ Traynor. As one of the fastest risers in the country. Traynor had plenty of opportunities but chose to stay home and play for the Cards like his father Jason Osborne did years ago. At 6’9 with a mega-wind span, Traynor brings elite-level tools and body just waiting to be shaped by Andy Kessler. He’ll need time to develop, but as we’ve seen during his senior year at Bardstown High School, Traynor has all the potential in the world to be a great three or four-year college basketball star.

Louisville added scoring, size, defense, toughness, athleticism and much more in their three signees and now Mack and company will have as many as two more spots to fill for the 2020-2021 season.

It’s been rather quiet on the recruiting trail as the season has gone on, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Chris Mack has been out at a few games here and there scouting players mostly in the 2021 class but continues to build relationships with players who could be on the radar for next season.

One of those players is five-star guard and Indiana product, Khristian Lander.

The 6’2 point guard was in town for an official visit back in September during which he attended Louisville Live and played pickup with the team and other recruits. Reports indicated that the visit went really well, and could lead to a commitment despite being in the class of 2021. That’s also around the same time where that word “reclassify” came into play, as many expected him to move into the class of 2020.

Then things went silent and while there have been a few updates, nothing has indicated yet whether Lander will for sure move into the class of 2020 or where he stands with Louisville. Until now. At least kind of.

Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting Analyst Corey Evans published a new column, identifying seven potential reclassify targets who could move from the class of 2021 to 2020. One of the names on that list was in fact, Lander.

Here’s what Evans wrote:

Arguably the quickest player in the game, there is no question Lander’s speed will translate to the next level. The question is when that next step will be taken. Talk surrounding him possibly reclassifying picked up earlier this winter and could pick up further in the coming weeks.

There is a fair chance that he makes the move into the 2020 class with his top three potential landing spots being Indiana, Louisville and Michigan. Lander took official visits to all three programs in the fall and while Indiana had garnered most of the talk at one point, Louisville might sit in the best spot right now.

Point guard was one of the top priorities for Chris Mack and staff during the recruiting process, targeting five-star guards like Caleb Love, DJ Steward, and Adam Miller along with other really talented guards including Deivon Smith and Jalen Terry. With that spot still not filled, landing a player who can provide quality minutes to Louisville will be crucial heading into the offseason whether that be addition by way of a high school recruit or potentially a sit-out or graduate transfer.

As a five-star guard, it’s obvious that landing a player the caliber of Lander would be huge for Louisville. Considering that guards Fresh Kimble and Ryan McMahon will both exhaust their eligibility following this season while Darius Perry will be entering his senior year and David Johnson could potentially be a one-and-done player if he plays well down the stretch. Even if Johnson does return that leaves Louisville with just one true point guard, with Perry and then sophomore Josh Nickelberry able to help out as needed.

The 247 Sports description of Lander describes a player with athleticism, scoring abilities, good passing, and the ability to attack both offensively and defensively, all of which will be needed for Mack to continue growing his program.

Average size for a point guard. Left handed. Both a smooth and explosive athlete. Has a tremendous burst to the rim off the dribble. Creative ball handler and finisher. Good passer as well. Streaky outside shooter at this point. Rebounds his position. Has potential to be high quality defender.

As Evans wrote, things could heat up in the next few weeks for Lander’s recruitment, particularly his decision to stay in 2021 or move to 2020, which means that things could get very serious for Louisville.

Next: Examining potential starting five changes for Chris Mack

Lander is at the top of the big board for Mack right now, regardless of what class he stays in, but the thought that he could reclassify could completely change the outlook of the class of 2020 for Louisville.

 

 

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