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Louisville Basketball: Cardinals Will Compete For ACC Title

Montrezl Harrell

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville Cardinals are making the big move into the ACC for the 2014-15 NCAA basketball season, and with the returning roster and recruiting class coming in, they will immediately contend for the conference regular season championship.

Louisville was fortunate to get Montrezl Harrell back, and the recruiting class is one of the best in the country by all accounts. The class includes six top players, and everyone of them can fill a need for coach Rick Pitino.

Harrell, the team’s leading scorer, will likely be that much better with another year under his belt, and he was a force last season. Even if he has plateaued in college, he will be a terror in the ACC because of its general lack of strong and powerful big men. He will push players around and dominate the post with both his size and guile.

Russ Smith will be tough to replace because he was not only a great player, but also a great leader. Luckily for Pitino, his recruiting class is amazingly well balanced and should be able to account for the loss of Smith and Luke Hancock.

The long and multi-skilled Shaqquan Aaron leads the class. Aaron can score from basically anywhere on the court, and is already consider a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Quentin Snider may not be as flashy as Aaron, but he will offer a steadiness that Smith brought to the team.

Aaron will not take any bad shots or make poor passes. He holds possession well and could help the Cardinals regroup when opponents go on runs. His demeanor should offer guidance to all players, and he will act like a coach on the floor.

The ACC will be the best conference next season, and with Louisville coming in to join powerhouses North Carolina and Duke, it could have two or three teams in the 2015 Final Four.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on GoogleRead more here.