Chris Mack has talent on the 2020-21 Louisville basketball roster, but veterans will be desperately needed.
There’s no easy way to move on from the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. No program or college basketball player can simply just pick up and move on from “what could have been” or forget how their seasons ended. Not Baylor players, not North Carolina Central players, not Stanford players, not Indiana players. Not anyone. That clearly is the same for the players of Team 106 and the Louisville basketball coaching staff.
We’re coming up on the two-week mark of cancellations around the entire sporting world and while we have no idea what would’ve happened, for the fans, players, and coaches of Louisville basketball alike that makes moving on near impossible.
But like everything else in life, there’s always a point where you have to move on. While we don’t have to forget about the ending of six seniors’ careers or the countless decisions and ripple effects that will come from this year’s turn of events, we don’t have to sit and dwell either.
For the last week and a half, we’ve done our best as a site to try and remind fans that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. While it’s hard to live life as is, we typically have things like sports to get away to and distract us from reality. That’s what we’ve tried to do for our readers and ourselves as we’ve looked ahead to team 107 (2020-21) for the first time while officially closing the door on the 2019-20 season.
While there’s nothing that can happen in terms of face-to-face meetings and on-campus or even in-home visits, that hasn’t stopped Chris Mack and his staff from beginning to look ahead as well. With at least three openings still remaining on the roster for next year, the staff has had to continue to work diligently to add talent and keep the program on an upward trajectory.
They’ve started with the transfer portal. With now 438 players in the portal available for college basketball’s version of “free agency” things have begun heating up for the Cards pursuit of new players. We’ve heard about the Cards interest in big man Kevin Marfo from Quinnipiac, DJ Carton, as well as Landers Nolley II of Virginia Tech, all of whom have the potential to be major impact players for Chris Mack.
We learned today there’s a new name on the board for the Cards, as they reached out to Bowling Green graduate-transfer Justin Turner, one of the hottest names on the transfer market. They weren’t the only ones, as nearly 40-plus colleges reached out to express their interest.
Turner’s play over the last two seasons is what makes him one of, if not the best available graduate-transfer as of Today. As a junior, the 6’4 guard averaged a shade of 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists as he carried Bowling Green to their first winning record since 2014-15 and was named Second-Team All-MAC. For an encore, Turner helped the Falcons finish second in the MAC and had them in-line to challenge heavy-favorite Akron for an NCAA Tournament bid while being named First-Team All-Conference.
Like many across the country, Turner’s rise to prominence gave him the opportunity to look for a bigger stage to play on in what will be his final season of college eligibility. He’ll now be attempting to find the best fit for him next season, likely looking for a staring role.
If you haven’t heard, Louisville just so happens to need guard help next year. With Ryan McMahon, Fresh Kimble, and Darius Perry all departing the Cards are now left with just David Johnson and Josh Nickelberry as primary guards.
Even with some of the nation’s top programs reaching out and expressing interest, the fit at Louisville makes too much sense. Not only has the program have a rich history of taking mid-major stars and turning them into NBA players with Damion Lee and Trey Lewis and achieved collegiate players in Fresh Kimble and Christen Cunningham, but they’ve also been able to win and do so at a high-level with grad-transfers being the focal point (both under Mack and Pitino).
Quoted by 247 Sports, Turner talked about all the interest he’s received from high-major programs and what exactly he’s looking for. He said:
“I’m looking for a place where I can be myself and play like I been playing throughout my career.”
While it remains to be seen what exactly Chris Mack has envisioned for his roster, a guy like Turner would be a hand-in-glove fit. As the focal point at Bowling Green, Turner proved in back-to-back seasons that he was capable of becoming an NBA caliber player (he declared without hiring an agent as a sophomore before returning) and now is looking to prove at the next step up that what he did before wasn’t a fluke.
Turner has great size at the guard position at 6’4, is a solid-athlete with really good finishing ability around the rim, a consistent and dominant scorer (scored in double-digits in all but three games played in 2019) and a guy who simply doesn’t quit. Not to mention he’s a capable and proven leader who has demonstrated the ability to help his team win basketball games.
We don’t know yet how serious the interest between the two parties is, but if Turner is looking for a program who has minutes available, is in need of an elite scorer, and has a coach who knows how to win – he should look no further.