Louisville basketball: Chris Mack pursuing rising 2021 point guard

Chris Mack extended a new scholarship offer for Louisville basketball as he tries to build a strong pipeline for 2020.

Chris Mack and the Louisville basketball program has done a great job of identifying talent and building relationships with a ton of high-level recruits in the class of 2021. As Presley Meyer wrote last week, the Cards have built up quite a strong pipeline and could be in store for a bounce-back recruiting cycle after 2020.

With point guard being one of the primary positions of needs, Mack has cast a wide net in search of a player capable of coming in and providing instant impact in 2020-21. As things stand today it seems that Louisville has invested a significant amount of time investing in relationships with five-star guard Hunter Sallis as well as JUCO standout El Ellis, who has seen his recruiting blow up as of late. However, as we saw last season things can quickly go south and without enough options on the board, a recruiting class can quickly fall apart.

That’s where 2021 point guard Bobby Pettiford Jr. comes into place. After conducting virtual visits with Chris Mack and Dino Gaudio, Jake Weingarten of Stock Risers reported on Wednesday that the Cards extended an offer the rising guard out of North Carolina.

Ranked as the 157th best player in the class of 2021 and 26th best point guard, Pettiford Jr. falls a bit below the threshold of recruits that Louisville usually targets but that’s not a reason for concern.

Pettiford Jr. is the type of player who likely would’ve seen his stock soar, much like Tyrell Jones (who was a big-time Louisville target and ended up at Auburn), during the summer AAU circuit. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, he’s not gotten the chance to show coaches what he can do at the highest level but that hasn’t stopped schools from pursuing him.

Up until the last few weeks, Pettiford Jr. only held offers from one high-major program and a few mid-majors but has recently seen Xavier, Marquette, Houston, and of course, Louisville, get into the mix.

When it comes to what Pettiford Jr. can do on the floor, it makes sense why Mack and company have expressed interest.

As a junior at South Granville in Creedmoor, NC, Pettiford was the definition of a stat-sheet stuffer as well as a winner. Averaging, nearly 22 points, 7.4 assists, 6 rebounds and nearly three steals per game, Pettiford shot 56 percent from the field while hitting 30 percent of his shots from deep, while crossing over the 1,000 point mark and leading his team to one of their best seasons in school history.

With Pettiford Jr. it all starts with his ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands as well as his tendencies to constantly make “winning plays.” Thanks to great handles and a lightning-quick first-step, Pettiford is nearly unstoppable when out in transition and also excels in both scoring and playmaking in the pick and roll.

What Mack has to love is his fearlessness. Even at 6’0, 170-pounds, Pettiford Jr. has a knack for being able to get past his defenders off the dribble and finish around the rim, even through contact. His highlights show a great feel for the game and ability to get where he wants when he wants, all while being able to knock down mid-range and deep pull-up jumpers. He’s also got ups that can make any bigger defender look silly at the rim.

Defensively, Pettiford may be just as strong as he is on offense showing the willingness to take away an opposing team’s best player. Last season he grew as a one-on-one defender and showed the ability to guard bigger guards thanks to his quickness and athleticism. He also proved to be quite a problem on the boards, especially considering his height at 6’0, averaging nearly seven rebounds per game.

One thing we talked about a lot with the incoming graduate transfers this offseason in Carlik Jones and Charles Minelend Jr. was the “swag” and overall toughness they bring to the floor each and every night. You can quickly see that Pettiford possesses those same traits, and while it may take a year or two, he has all of the tools necessary to develop into a long-term starter.

It’s very unlikely that Pettiford is at the top of the wish for the Cards at this point in the recruiting cycle, but as he rises it’ll be worth watching if Louisville stays involves and potentially is rewarded for being one of the first big-time programs to extend an offer.