Louisville basketball: One name you may not know but need to for 2021

Louisville basketball is once again recruiting one of the nation’s top JUCO players.

Louisville basketball has hit the recruiting trail hard during the pandemic and it’s paid off big time with three commitments. Although the Cards recruiting momentum recently took a hit with the decommitment of their highest rated player in the class of 2021, Bryce Hopkins.

Ever since Hopkins’ announcement to back off his commitment to Chris Mack and the Cards, a decision he made based on “uncertainties on what is going on with the sanctions” we’ve attempted to reset the Louisville recruiting board and get a better understanding of who may end up in the final two spots.

Last month on the Big Red Louie Podcast, recruiting guru Dalton Pence filled us in on where Louisville was at each position and where the next commitment may come from. Although there isn’t one player who I would say is “trending” towards a final decision there are multiple players who are very much considering Louisville.

Surprisingly the most noise has come from players who are at the guard position, one that Mack has stocked up with El Ellis and Bobby Pettiford Jr, as both Blake Wesley and D’Marco Dunn have included the Cards in updated lists of schools being considered.

 

Louisville also got huge news last week when they officially made the top eight for 2022 five-star forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, one of the best players in all of the country, just days after officially extending a scholarship offer.

While those recruits have all gotten news and attention, the recruitment of one of the top big men in the country seemingly has fallen under the radar.

Throughout the 2021 recruiting process, Roosevelt Wheeler and Efton Reid have gotten the majority of the attention and still sit as the top targets down low. However, as our own Dalton Pence reported, John A. Logan center Jamarion Sharp has recently started to become a top priority for Mack and the Cards.

If you’re like me, you may not have been familiar with Sharp until recently so let me get you up to speed.

Rated as the no. 1 center and no. 1 overall player at the junior college level, the 7’2 big man blossomed playing alongside Scrubb in his first season coming out of Hopkinsville, KY. While he only averaged 5.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, Sharp received all-conference honors as a freshman and was a huge part of the success John A. Logan College experienced finishing in the top overall.

That production didn’t lead to offers and interest right away, especially during the pandemic, but in recent weeks multiple big name programs have extended scholarship offers including Cincinnati, Oregon, and Arizona, while schools like Louisville have begun expressing interest in hopes of moving towards doing the same.

While Sharp isn’t the typical type of player Mack recruits at the five position, dealing with the extreme length of teams like Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, and others likely has led to the notion that more size and shot blocking is needed.

That’s exactly where Sharp comes in.

At 7’2 with a 7’7 wingspan, Sharp is easily the best shot blocking prospect the Cards have recruited in quite some time, comparing to former Cards like Gorgui Dieng or Anas Mahmoud at the next level.

What makes him even more intriguing is his mix of athleticism and skill to go along with the size that truly is remarkable. At times, his game looks unnatural and nonathletic but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Sharp runs the floor at a very high rate and is a very capable attacker around the basket. His offensive game is still developing as is his body, but Sharp has all the tools to become an elite shot blocker and rebounder at the next level.

After this season Sharp will have two years of eligibility remaining and should he join Louisville, him and Ellis would form one of the deadliest JUCO combinations at the next level. With guys like Ellis and Pettiford Jr. set to take over next season as the lead guards,  I couldn’t be more confident of Sharp’s fit.

With his ability to run and get up above the rim, Ellis and Pettiford would have endless opportunities in pick and roll scenarios to either create for themselves or lob the ball up to Sharp for an alley-oop, something we’ve rarely seen in Mack’s tenure.

Next: Game-by-game predictions for Louisville football in 2020

It’ll be interesting to see how hard Mack and company pursue Sharp with Reid and Wheeler still on the board. There’s always the chance that Louisville could decide to take two bigs, especially with Sharp only having two years to play, and if that’s the case things really could get crazy.

 

 

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