Louisville's future suddenly doesn't look nearly as bleak

Jeff Eisenberg

When longtime Louisville target Marquis Teague chose Kentucky over the Cardinals a three months ago, the perception was that Rick Pitino's once-thriving program might be spiraling toward mediocrity.

The Cardinals were coming off of a first-round NCAA tournament exit, their prospects for next season didn't look much better and their top priority in the class of 2011 had just announced he was headed to their biggest rival.

Surely, Louisville was going to struggle to be competitive with Kentucky for a few years, right? Well, maybe not.

Despite the disappointment of losing Teague to the Wildcats in May, the Cardinals have positioned themselves to potentially replenish their roster with a star-studded 2011 recruiting class.

Elite shooting guard Wayne Blackshear of Chicago and center Zach Price of Ohio have already committed to Louisville, as has three-star small forward Ryan Taylor of Indianapolis. And though the Cardinals don't have any new additions to the class to celebrate, Courier-Journal recruiting reporter Jody Demling said in an online chat on Wednesday that Pitino and his staff are doing very well with a handful of other top prospects.

According to Demling:

• Louisville is doing "really good" with elite power forward Quincy Miller and will likely get an official visit along with Baylor and Kentucky.

• Five-star forward Chane Behanan and four-star shooting guard Deuce Bello are also listing the Cardinals among their leaders.

• The hiring of assistant coach Tim Fuller last month has opened some doors with Johnny O'Bryant, a 6-foot-9 power forward currently among the top 50 prospects in the nation. Demling thinks he's going to "look hard at the Cardinals."

"Louisville has done a great job, but now they have to finish some of these kids they are in strong on," Demling wrote. "They really want Chane Behanan, Quincy Miller (and) Deuce Bello but now with Johnny O'Bryant which way do they turn? And there's Jabarie Hinds, Jakarr Sampson, Remy Abell and Nick Johnson. A lot of good options."

There are no guarantees in recruiting until pen hits paper (and sometimes not even then), but any combination of the names above could potentially be enough to elevate Louisville back among the nation's elite teams.

Three months ago, the future looked bleak for Louisville. Three months from now, it may look bright again.