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Rick Pitino's Effective Recruiting Style

Rick Pitino coaching the Louisville Cardinals

Coming off a national championship, Rick Pitino and his Louisville squad look to repeat their success last year in this coming season. Projected to be ranked as a top 5 team in the coming year, Coach Pitino has in place the talent and depth on his team that provide him with the tools required to repeat. Even with the loss of graduating seniors Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, Pitino looks to fill their voids with similar production. Much of this can be attributed to Pitino’s unique recruiting style.

            Although he is coming off a national championship, Pitino is not looking to completely overhaul his roster with a strong recruiting class filled with top ranked freshman. Rather, the future hall of fame coach will utilize the pieces already in front of him to continue Louisville’s success. Having already captured the commitments of Jaquan Lyle, Quentin Snider, and Shaqquan Aaron, Pitino appears as though he is taking a different approach to recruiting.

            Many championship teams use their leverage to draw in big name recruits. Take for instance Coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Following their championship run in 2012, Coach Calipari followed it up with a historic recruiting class that includes names such as the Harrison brothers, Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, James Young, and Marcus Lee. Calipari approached recruiting by bringing in a slew of one and dones that can bring immediate success to the program following a dismal season. While other national championship teams take advantage of their titles by attracting top names to their schools, Pitino does not want to travel down this road.

            Instead, Pitino looks to bring on board recruits that will stay in college beyond their freshman years. Displayed by Louisville’s recent commitments, Coach Pitino has secured players who can serve as role players their freshman years and can bring needed depth to the roster. But, these same recruits will not leave after their freshman year to pursue professional basketball and will intend to stay in college in order to develop so that to improve their draft stock.

            A prime example of such a system is Peyton Siva. Although he was a highly touted prospect out of high school, by no means was he going to leave college early for the draft. As a freshman he served as a role player whose talent helped him bring immediate production for the Cardinals. Following his freshman year, he assumed a larger role on the team. Averaging 10.0 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game, Siva directed Louisville to a Big East Champions and NCAA Tournament Champions. His development during college provided Pitino and the Cardinals with a key player who played a key role early on in his career and assumed more responsibility on the court by his senior year. The same can be said for Gorgui Dieng. Both, as a result, were drafted this past year. Pitino envisions that his recruits to follow the same path as Siva and Dieng.

            By securing Lyle, Snyder, and Aaron for the 2014 season, Pitino  has displayed his desire to recruit players that are ranked in the ESPN 100, but at the same time take in players who can stay in the program for several years. In doing so, Pitino ensures that there is depth and talent at all positions. By using this approach, Pitino maintains consistency in the program and thus won’t have to face a down year. Every year, incoming freshman will play a key role on the team while the upperclassmen, as a result of their college basketball experience, can serve as leaders and important pieces to the team. The talent and depth available at Pitino’s disposable will be tremendous.

            Others though, like John Calipari and his incoming class, cannot boast such a group. Although he has a strong group of freshman leading his team, their inexperience and difficult transition to the college level may show. Pitino does not have this problem. Coach Pitino can rely on members of his team from all years to step up and play a big role in the rotation.

            Pitino’s approach guarantees successful seasons every year. Supporting his approach is his record. In a tough Big East Conference, he has behind his record consecutive Big East Championships and has performed extremely well in the NCAA Tournament, including back to back Final Fours. Coach Pitino’s model provides for this type of consistent success. By taking in players who will develop under his tutelage through their years in college, Pitino builds a balanced roster and can assure perpetual success.

            His approach has not worked just in Louisville, but also during his time with Kentucky. Under Pitino’s leadership, he utilized the same approach in the 90’s with Kentucky and as a result helped them win the NCAA Tournament and the paved the road for another NCAA Tournament Championship under Tubby Smith.

            Coach Rick Pitino’s model establishes balance and consistency for Louisville basketball. Having already won an NCAA title, Pitino looks to continue this success for the next decade in Louisville and provide Louisville fans to look forward to every college basketball season.