Last season was the worst season in the history of the Louisville basketball program. A team that finished 4-28 had a massive stack of odds set against them and it was too much to overcome. Whether it was the IARP cloud or the complacency and apathy borne from a losing culture, or the inexperience running a program, the list goes on. But, it’s no secret that Kenny Payne was walking into an extremely difficult situation already at a deficit, in that he had never been a Head Coach before.
Known for his recruiting prowess at the University of Kentucky, upon his arrival, it was expected that he would recruit aggressively and land four and five-star prospects. But, that is not what happened in his first offseason here, which caused a lot of frustration for the fanbase.
Hired in March 2022, the IARP cloud was not lifted until November, and in that time frame, Kenny Payne landed four-star forward Kamari Lands, four-star forward Devin Ree, three-star guard Fabio Basili, transfers Hercy Miller and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. The 2022 recruiting class was rated 24th in the nation, which is not bad for a first-year head coach who did not have the ability to guarantee a postseason appearance.
But once the cloud was lifted and the IARP announced their ruling in November, Chris Mack came to Kenny Payne’s unintended defense by validating how difficult it was to recruit at a high level, while waiting for a ruling from the IARP.
I appreciate the many texts of support I’ve received today. The cloud that my staff and I operated under during our time at UofL was irreparable in recruiting. As far as the trivial allegations levied against me & our program, today was a vindication in many ways. (1/4)
— Chris Mack (@CoachChrisMack) November 3, 2022
Now, the cloud has been lifted, the sun shines a little brighter, and the Cardinal birds chirp a little louder. Louisville basketball is on the rise and the roster has seen a near-complete overhaul from last season to now. Kenny Payne, as of now, has the No. 3 overall recruiting class in the nation with stars like five-star Trentyn Flowers, who re-classed from 2024, five-star Dennis Evans, four-star Kaleb Glenn, and four-star Curtis Williams Jr.
Not to mention Skyy Clark transferring in from Illinois, Danilo Jovanovich transferring in from Miami, and Koron Davis committing to Louisville out of the JUCO ranks. And now, Louisville has two open scholarships left, but three very impactful players are tied to the program as of now.