Though he won't enroll at Louisville
for another year and a half, Smithfield, R.I. junior guard Mike Marra
was ready to make a verbal commitment to Rick Pitino
's Cardinals Thursday afternoon. Why did the sharp-shooting 6-foot-5 Marra decide to cast his lot with Louisville so early?
"I wanted to seize the opportunity that I had and take advantage of the offer from Louisville," Marra said.
Though Marra isn't ranked in Scout.com's Top 75 for the Class of 2009, he does harbor big-time hoop dreams. Eventually Marra hopes to play in the league and he feels Pitino is the guy who can best further those ambitions.
"It's definitely the coaching staff," Marra said. "I feel that Rick Pitino can be the guy to get the best out of me and hopefully get me to the NBA."
Before making his decision, Marra did some investigative work. He made an unofficial visit to Louisville earlier this season and compared what the Cards had to offer against some other schools on his list.
"I visited Providence, Massachusetts and URI, but those schools are nothing compared to Louisville," said Marra. "The fan-base and everything…When I went to Louisville I couldn't go anywhere without seeing a Louisville Cardinals hat or shirt or something."
Marra said he felt comfortable with both the players and coaches at UofL during his visit. Marra has developed a solid relationship with the Louisville coaches during the past several months and a visit by Pitino Thursday for Marra's final regular-season contest against Winchendon cemented his decision.
"I stayed in the dorm on my visit and that was a good experience to meet all the guys," said Marra. "Just hanging out with those guys was fun. The coaching staff, the short time that I've known them, I feel like I can trust them."
Thursday, Marra called Pitino just before his team practice and told the UofL coach he wanted to come play for the Cardinals.
"Basically, I just told him how I felt and what I wanted to do and he seemed very excited," Marra said. "That made me happy him being excited for me to go there. Really, I can't explain how I feel right now. It's amazing."
Marra, a tough and confident player, thinks he can help Louisville right away with his ability to shoot the three-pointer with accuracy.
"As soon as I get there I'm hoping my shooting will make an impact," said Marra. "As I work with Coach Pitino hopefully I can round off every part of my game and get everything else up to my shooting ability.
"To improve I think I have to get stronger, gain some weight and improve my agility and lateral movement on defense," Marra said. "I think that will come over the next year and as I get to college."
This summer, Marra will be a prime target for scouts who haven't had a chance to properly evaluate him but need to because of his commitment to a nationally-respected program like Louisville.
"I really don't think (rankings) matter. I'm going to the college I want to and hopefully it's going to get me where I want to go in life," Marra said. "Being in the Top 100 isn't really a big deal to me. I know how good I am and Rick Pitino feels like I'm a great player too. I don't know that national scouts know better than Rick Pitino."
Marra also held offers from Providence, UMass, Rhode Island.
Though he won't enroll at Louisville for another year and a half, Smithfield, R.I. junior guard Mike Marra was ready to make a verbal commitment to Rick Pitino's Cardinals Thursday afternoon. Why did the sharp-shooting 6-foot-5 Marra decide to cast his lot with Louisville so early? Marra spoke with InsideTheVille.com about his decision.
Mike Marra talks about his decision to commit to Louisville early in the recruiting process