Shortly after his team's magical season ended with a Final Four loss to Illinois earlier this month, Louisville coach Rick Pitino sounded doubtful during his post-season press conference that his star recruit, 6-foot-9 Amir Johnson of Los Angeles Westchester, would ever play for the Cardinals.
"What freshmen show up you never know," Pitino said three weeks ago. "I don’t expect everyone to show up. I haven’t heard too much from Amir Johnson, so I don’t know about (him)."
Now, though, as it becomes more and more apparent that the talented McDonald's All-American forward won't be selected in the first round of the National Basketball Association's draft this June, Pitino is sounding a different tune.
"I think Amir Johnson, if he's able to get his grades straightened out, will be coming to (U of L)," Pitino told WAVE3's Gary Fogel at the Meijer's store in New Albany Wednesday morning. "I feel comfortable about everybody (else) coming - (except) I'm not sure about Clarence Holloway. But I think Amir could be coming."
And while Pitino sounded positive about Johnson, the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year, the veteran coach didn't seem as optimistic about the 7-foot Holloway, who scored just two points in the adidas Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic two weeks.
Pitino didn't sound as optimistic
about Clarence Holloway playing
for U of L next season as he did
about Amir Johnson's chances.
Though Holloway told Inside The Ville and other local media while in town that he was confident he'd attain the necessary academic requirements to play for U of L, and that he intended to play for the Cardinals next season, Pitino didn't sound nearly as optimistic yesterday.
"There's reporter talk, and then there's the truth," Pitino said when Fogel informed him of Holloway's statements about playing for Louisville next season.
Johnson averaged 21 points, and 15 rebounds while leading his high school team to the Los Angeles city title, and a California state championship as a senior. Should he arrive at U of L next fall, he'll be expected to make an immediate impact in the Cardinals frontcourt next season.
It's been reported recently that Johnson's grade point average has significantly improved since transferring from Los Angeles' Verbum Dei High School to Westchester two years ago.
Now, apparently, the only thing Johnson needs in order to gain collegiate eligibility next season is a qualifying score on the Standardized Aptitude Test.