NCAA Basketball

Big East Breakouts: Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear

The Louisville Cardinals made a shocking run to win the Big East tournament and make it to the Final Four. They look to be even better this year. Peyton Siva will try to lead his back to the promised land in the conference and possibly an NCAA championship. Who will be the difference maker from last year? Why, Wayne Blackshear of course.

Last year, Blackshear missed most of his freshman season due to a shoulder injury. He played in only 15 games and never received major minutes. This year will be different. With the losses of Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric, there will be room on the wing for Blackshear to play. Expect him to truly break out and make the most of his first full season as a Cardinal.

Head coach Rick Pitino has Louisville built on a strong defensive foundation that encourages full court presses and scrappy play. Blackshear is a guy who can fit to that mold, but also give the team the offense it needs. He is an elite scorer. He can get to the basket, create his own shot, and shoot the three. And he does it all with confidence. Blackshear has the poise of a senior while still not even starting his sophomore season.

With Blackshear in the fold, Louisville will be a very complete team with Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng, Jared Swopshire, Chane Behanan, and Siva. Right now, they are the favorites to win the conference. But we’ve seen a lot of magical runs in the Big East, so nothing is set in stone.

Naturally, a team that was two wins away from a national title will come back hungrier next year. The Cardinals have what it takes to make that run, but Blackshear must be a factor-and stay healthy too.

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