Louisville basketball: Cards still searching for players in class of 2020

LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 12: Head coach Chris Mack of the Louisville Cardinals reacts in the first half of the game against the Duke Blue Devils at KFC YUM! Center on February 12, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. Duke came from behind to win 71-69. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 12: Head coach Chris Mack of the Louisville Cardinals reacts in the first half of the game against the Duke Blue Devils at KFC YUM! Center on February 12, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. Duke came from behind to win 71-69. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

It appears Chris Mack and the Louisville basketball program may have an interest in adding another high schooler to their class of 2020.

After Chris Mack reeled in two of the highest profiled graduate transfers in the transfer portal this spring, things have all but shifted to the class of 2021 recruiting wise for Louisville basketball.

While one spot remains open on the 2020-21 roster, it’s still unknown whether the Cards will add another piece to the roster or stick with what they have currently. Mack talked with local media earlier this month and insisted that the team will keep their options open when it comes to making any additions, however, they weren’t willing to take a “warm body.” That meant the fit had to be perfect while filling a position of need.

The position of need that Mack and his staff have identified is in the frontcourt, specifically at the five position. While during his teleconference, he wasn’t willing to say why they felt that way or what type of player they would like to add, Mack did insist that was where they were looking – though they felt comfortable with where they were.

A few weeks back I wrote about Mack’s press conference and why his intentions of adding to the 2020 roster didn’t really make much sense to me. While I do think it is wise of the staff to fill the last scholarship, adding a big man for next season could hinder the development of Aidan Igiehon as much as it helps provide depth for starter, Malik Williams.

While it looked like the staff would mostly watch the transfer market, it appears they aren’t necessarily excluding the idea of adding to their list of high school signees, D’Andre Davis and JJ Traynor.

ESPN Basketball Insider, Jeff Borzello, reported that after hours after decommitting from Wake Forest (following the firing of Danny Manning), three-star power forward Jaylon Gibson had heard from a variety of high major programs, one of which was Louisville.

Gibson isn’t the first player the Cards have been in contact with who could join their squad from the high school ranks. An article from Rivals Recruiting Writer, Eric Bossi, indicated that Louisville had been in contact with 2021 big man, Micawber “Mac” Etienne, a player who could potentially reclassify this summer.

Etienne is a relatively new name to the Louisville basketball big board, after being offered earlier in April, and while his plans aren’t known yet – it appears a virtual visit has been completed and the Cards are very much in the fold (no pun intended).

So what does this mean?

Well it means that they are continuing to build a pipeline of players from multiple channels. We’ve already seen Louisville attempt to land two different graduate transfer big men in Matt Haarms, who committed to BYU, and Mattias Markusson, who chose to return to LMU. Combine that with the two names mentioned above from the high school ranks, and it is obvious that Mack feels they need another piece.

There’s not a player in the 2021 class more intriguing than big man Etienne.

The 6’11” center is mobile and has a multifaceted offensive game that could benefit the Cardinals.

The 59th-ranked player in his class, Etienne’s 7’3” wingspan and improving versatility makes him one of the more intriguing players in ‘21 and that’s what makes him even more interesting as a potential reclass.

Louisville has two post players already locked in regardless of if they take another player or not. Etienne could find himself in a situation where he learns behind Williams and Igiehon and brings excellent rebounding and passing from the five position.

Gibson is a major wildcard still available in the 2020 class. After signing with Wake Forest, he has requested to explore other options.

Gibson has heard from teams like Maryland and Syracuse, which tells me that although he is only a 3-star prospect, high-level teams see a lot of potential in him.

Louisville basketball fans have high expectations for recruiting, and landing a player like Gibson outside of the top 300 would not fall in line with what Cards fans are accustomed to.

With that being said, Gibson is a raw talent that has a high ceiling. He demonstrates solid spacial awareness and is an instinctive shot blocker. He also proves to be an above-average ball-handler for his size.

Gibson is a project, but if the coaching staff is sold on him to fill the final scholarship, then I’m fine with it as well.

It still remains to be seen how much interest either Gibson or Etienne have in suiting up for Louisville next season on a roster that already includes two former four-star recruits who expect a good chunk of playing time. Gibson would be more likely to take on a developmental role than Etienne, who should be an instant impact player wherever he lands (in either 2020 or 2021).

It’s likely we’ll also see several new names pop up on the radar over the next few months, especially with players returning back to school from the NBA Draft as well as from the potential fall out of a new transfer rule that doesn’t require sitting out.

Next. Louisville basketball 2021 recruiting big board. dark

Either way, it appears that Mack and the Louisville basketball team aren’t quite content with the pieces they have for 2020-21.