#8 Louisville Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Louisville Cardinals
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #2 ACC
 Louisville Logo
Louisville enters the 2017-18 season with a dark cloud over the program due to a recent FBI investigation that led to Rick Pitino’s departure as head coach. Assistant coach David Padgett takes over the helm with no head coaching experience, but he will have a roster with no shortage of talent. Top recruit Brian Bowen likely won’t play due to the recruiting violations, but the Cardinals have plenty of returning contributors from a year ago. Louisville was a certain top-ten team before the legal issues hit, but now David Padgett will have to separate the off-court troubles from the on-court production to keep his team at the top of the ACC.
2016-17 Record: 25-9, 12-6
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
David Padgett
Coach Record:
0-0 at Louisville, 0-0 overall
Who’s Out:
The toughest on-court loss for Louisville will be Donovan Mitchell, who became an NBA lottery pick after his outstanding sophomore season. Mitchell made the first team All-ACC behind 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals. Mitchell was an excellent two-way player, also being named to the All-ACC Defensive Team. The Cardinals also lose big men Mangok Mathiang and Jaylen Johnson. Johnson figured to be a key player this season after averaged 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds as a junior, but he surprisingly elected to go pro. Mathiang had been a mainstay at center for Louisville, and the Cardinals will miss his presence on both ends of the floor. Tony Hicks, David Levitch and Matz Stockman have also all departed after reserve roles a year ago.
Who’s In:
Louisville brings in four talented freshmen this season. Malik Williams is the top incoming freshman as a four-star center. Williams is a seven-footer who was ranked as a top-30 player in the nation. Williams should play a role for the Cardinals right away due to the losses of Mathiang and Johnson. Darius Perry is a four-star point guard who was ranked top-75 nationally. Perry will likely just add depth this season, but could be the point guard of the future. Jordan Nwora and Lance Thomas are both four-star recruits who will add depth in the frontcourt. Dwayne Sutton redshirted last season as a walk-on, but has earned a scholarship for this season. Brian Bowen was the prized recruit this offseason, but he is unlikely to ever see the court due to the FBI investigation.
Who to Watch:
Quentin Snider is the Cardinals’ leading returning scorer. Snider averaged 12.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and a team-high 4.1 assists as a junior. Snider will be an important senior figure running the show at point guard. Deng Adel looks primed for a breakout after a strong sophomore campaign. Adel played his best basketball in March, averaging 16.2 points in the final five games of the season. VJ King needs to show more as a sophomore this year. King is a former five-star recruit, but he averaged just 5.5 points in 13.5 minutes per game as a freshman. Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud are the only two returning big men. Both players are upperclassmen who have flashed potential throughout their career, but they need to put together strong campaigns this season. Ryan McMahon may see a bigger role as a shooter off the bench this year. McMahon played only 6.3 minutes per game last year, but he attempted 1.9 threes per outing.
Final Projection:
Louisville’s expectations have been tempered since the FBI investigation forced Rick Pitino out of a job, but the Cardinals’ roster still has top-ten caliber talent. David Padgett is being thrown into a tough situation, but the returning players at his disposal will make his job a little easier. Louisville has senior leader Quentin Snider along with upcoming star Deng Adel to lead the way. The Cardinals’ toughest task will be to stay focused in light of the off-court troubles, but many of these players were there when Louisville was banned from the postseason two years ago. As long as Padgett can keep his players focused on their on-court performances, Louisville should be right at the top of the ACC standings.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Quentin Snider, Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game

VJ King, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Deng Adel, Junior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
Ray Spalding, Junior, Forward, 5.9 points per game
Anas Mahmoud, Senior, Center, 5.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.3 (79th in nation, 8th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 66.0 (41, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (103, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.1 (20, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (213, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (149, 12)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.6 (226, 13)
Rebound Margin: 6.0 (23, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (164, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.0 (25, 4)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#38 Deng Adel
#46 V.J. King
#49 Anas Mahmoud

Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#24 Malik Williams
#69 Darius Perry
#94 Jordan Nwora
#132 Lance Thomas