The Louisville Cardinals had a wonderful year that was capped off by winning the National Championship. Being that the game is played on college basketball’s biggest stage, people are going to start to wonder which Cards are headed to the NBA. If you think Rick Pitino looked scared from those fireworks going off, lookout and wait until you see his face after the slew of talent leaves the program.
According to Russ Smith‘s father, the volume-shooter is going to declare early entry into the NBA. Smith, who is inconsistent but electric, is pretty much locked-in to being a second round selection. Coming back for another year certainly wouldn’t hurt his draft stock, but there is virtually no way for him to improve it.
Peyton Siva graduated, so he is gone regardless. The extension of Pitino on the court has a Mateen Cleaves feel to him, and being a great leader in college does not mean it is going to translate to the next level. Siva, however, has enough athleticism that he could hang on a few seasons in the league.
I think Gorgui Dieng is off to the pros. There is virtually no reason for him to come back. With Siva graduating, Dieng loses a player who helped him get whatever buckets that he put in the basket. He also improved his offense vastly over the years, showing his ceiling has yet to be hit.
His stock could only be hurt by coming back next season. Plus, if the freshmen class coming into college across the country is as good as everyone says, Dieng can get lost in all the underclassmen hoopla.
Chane Behanan is an interesting case. He absolutely starred in the National Title game. It is singular games like that, being played with a huge spotlight on it, which propels players like Behanan up people’s mock draft boards. Being a undersized three or a humorously undersized four, however, does not translate to the NBA. Neither does his underwhelming season numbers. Expect Behanan back in a Louisville uniform.
Luke Hancock may have won the National Title game’s MOP, but he is not on anyone’s draft radar. It is more than safe to say the sharpshooter is coming back. If Hancock wants to play at the next level, he is going to have to become a better overall player.
It is true that there can be a niche in the NBA for a three-point shooter, but you still need to do more to get ample time on the court or even a good look at making a roster. He is definitely coming back.
Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell are both coming back as well. Nowhere near being on people’s draft radars make them a lock to come back to Louisville. If they were to improve over the offseason, who knows, but their games as of now don’t scream NBA future.
Since Siva graduated, Smith and Dieng are essential locks to leave, the Cardinals are going to look a little different next year. Gone is some leadership and characters that made this team as good as it was. Still, there will be enough coming back as well as new talent coming in that there shouldn’t be a monumental drop off in productivity — not relevant to winning a National Title, mind you.