#22 Louisville Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Louisville Cardinals
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
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Year two for Chris Mack was a strong one as the Cardinals finished 24-7 and were the top ranked team in the country at one point. This season looks like a transition year on paper with all six players who started at least 15 games now departed. However, Mack has had strong recruiting classes each of the last two years so the Cardinals’ returning bench players are top talents themselves. Louisville also adds a couple of graduate transfers for some much-needed experience on the roster. The Cardinals should have little trouble remaining one of the top teams in the ACC.
2019-20 Record: 24-7, 15-5
Coach: Chris Mack
Coach Record: 44-21 at Louisville, 256-115 overall
Key Departed Players:
Jordan Nwora, Forward, 18.0 ppg
Steven Enoch, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Dwayne Sutton, Guard, 9.1 ppg
Ryan McMahon, Guard, 8.7 ppg
Darius Perry, Guard, 5.2 ppg
Lamarr Kimble, Guard, 5.0 ppg

Key Returning Players:
Malik Williams, Senior, Forward, 8.5 ppg
David Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 6.3 ppg
Samuell Williamson, Sophomore, Forward, 4.4 ppg
Aidan Igiehon, Sophomore, Forward, 1.0 ppg
Quinn Slazinski, Sophomore, Forward, 1.0 ppg
Josh Nickelberry, Sophomore, Guard, 0.8 ppg
Key New Players:
D’Andre Davis, Freshman, Guard
Carlik Jones, Senior, Guard, Grad Transfer from Radford
Charles Minlend, Senior, Guard, Grad Transfer from San Francisco
JJ Traynor, Freshman, Forward
Jae’Lyn Withers, Redshirt Freshman, Forward

Not having any starters returning would be bad news for most teams, but Louisville was one of the most talented teams top to bottom in the NCAA last season. The Cardinals had one of the top recruiting classes in the nation last season, but most of those freshmen played limited minutes and should be ready for bigger roles as sophomores. Malik Williams is the only returning player who isn’t a sophomore. Williams, a senior, has played in 92 games as a Cardinal and averaged 8.5 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior. David Johnson and Samuell Williamson are the only two freshmen that saw serious minutes last season. Neither player saw more than 20 minutes per game, but both flashed talent across the season and should seamlessly transition into full-time starters. Aidan Igiehon, Quinn Salzinksi and Josh Nickelberry all played fewer than five minutes per game though, and their production as sophomores is more difficult to project. Jae’Lyn Withers was also a member of last season’s strong freshman class, but he redshirted for the year. The maturation of these sophomores will likely decide how high Louisville’s ceiling is this season. The Cardinals did add two graduate transfers to boost their experience level. Reigning Big South Player of the Year Carlik Jones joins Louisville for a season after averaging 20.0 points, 5.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season. The ACC will obviously be a step up in competition, but Jones should immediately step in as a starter in the backcourt. Charles Minlend was a two-time All-WCC member with San Francisco. Last season, Minlend averaged 14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Louisville’s recruiting class isn’t as strong this season, especially after Jay Scrubb elected to bypass college to go straight to the NBA. The Cardinals still add D’Andre Davis and JJ Traynor who are both four-star recruits. Louisville has a lot of changes going into the season, but the talent level should remain consistent enough to keep them as a top-25 team that should compete for an ACC title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.1 (100th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.7 (32, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (91, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.9 (13, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (72, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.6 (17, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.1 (100, 6)
Rebound Margin: 6.3 (23, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.0 (100, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (89, 6)
Madness 2021 NBA Draft Rankings:
#20 David Johnson
#42 Samuell Williamson
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#112 JJ Traynor
#121 D'Andre Davis