Five-star Class of 2017 wing Brian Bowen commits to Louisville

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Louisville landed the last five-star prospect left in the Class of 2017 on Saturday as Michigan native and wing Brian “Tugs” Bowen pledged to the Cardinals on Twitter.

The 6-foot-7 Bowen just helped national high school powerhouse La Lumiere to a national championship this past season as he comes into college with a winning pedigree. Regarded as the No. 20 overall prospect in the national Class of 2017 rankings, according to Rivals, Bowen gives the Cardinals an additional perimeter weapon who can score and handle the ball.

Bowen becomes the second five-star prospect to join the Cardinals in the Class of 2017 as he joins five-star big man Malik Williams, four-star guard Darius Perry, four-star forward Jordan Nwora and three-star forward Lance Thomas.

It’s hard to say if Bowen will start since V.J. King, Deng Adel and Ray Spalding all return for the Cardinals, but he gives Louisville another rotation piece who can make plays for next season. The Cardinals will certainly have plenty of depth on the wing now and Bowen is versatile enough to play multiple spots on the floor.

This commitment is especially impressive for Louisville given how late they entered a crowded recruiting race and were able to land a five-star prospect like Bowen.

Louisville currently sits at No. 8 in the CBT way-too-early preseason top 25 for the 2017-18 season, as they’re right in the mix for a national championship entering next season.

 

 

Five-star Class of 2017 wing Brian Bowen to announce Saturday

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Five-star Class of 2017 wing Brian Bowen is finally going to announce his college decision on Saturday.

The native of Michigan is the final five-star prospect to commit to play for next season as all signs are pointing to a surprising late pledge for Louisville. Bowen has also been linked to Arizona, Creighton, DePaul, Michigan State and Texas at various times over the last few weeks but the Cardinals are the heavy, heavy favorite when Bowen makes it public.

No, I’m not spoiling the commitment of a player by putting this out there before Bowen’s official announcement on Saturday.

That’s because Bowen has already enrolled at Louisville as a student this week, according to a report from Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

A Louisville spokesman confirmed to the Courier-Journal that Bowen’s status with the school has changed from application to matriculation as Bowen is now enrolled in classes for the summer term. In order for Bowen to be on the Louisville men’s basketball team for next season, he still has to sign financial aid paperwork. But that is a minor thing at this point.

If Bowen does commit to Louisville on Saturday, as expected, then it will be a huge late coup for head coach Rick Pitino. Bowen would give the Cardinals a capable wing who can come in and provide minutes right away as he would help ease some losses from last season.

Louisville is going to be a major contender in the ACC, and for a national championship, next season and potentially adding Bowen would only enhance their chances.

Louisville’s Jaylen Johnson pleads guilty to marijuana possession

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Louisville big man Jaylen Johnson pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in Woodford County, Kentucky earlier this week, according to court records.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson just finished his junior season with the Cardinals but he was pulled over on March 22 for not having a visible licence plate. According to a citation, police said the vehicle had a strong odor of marijuana and a search uncovered a Gatorade bottle with a suspected plastic bag of marijuana.

Johnson pleading guilty means that he had to pay a fine of $260.

According to Jason Riley of WDRB in Louisville, the Cardinals were recently made aware of Johnson’s arrest.

“We just became aware of the matter and have addressed it internally,” Kenny Klein, Louisville spokesman, texted to Riley.

It’s hard to say what kind of punishment Johnson will receive but Louisville is counting on him to be one of its key pieces next season when the Cardinals have national championship aspirations. Johnson averaged 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season while shooting 58 percent from the field.

Wagner leads No. 7 Michigan past No. 2 Louisville to advance to Sweet 16

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INDIANAPOLIS — Despite senior point guard Derrick Walton Jr. finally coming back down to Earth, No. 7 seed Michigan remained red-hot with a 73-69 second-round upset win over No. 2 seed Louisville on Sunday in the Midwest Region.

Walton only went 3-for-13 from the field, and finished with 10 points, but he attacked the basket and made a tough, driving layup with Michigan only leading by two with 23 seconds left.

Although Walton couldn’t figure out his shot until late in the game, he was picked up in a big way by his Wolverine teammates — specifically the inspired play of sophomore big man Moe Wagner.

Finishing with 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting, Wagner was the interior force that the Wolverines needed to match up with Louisville’s bigs. Wagner is a talented perimeter threat for a big man but most of his damage came on the interior.

Winners of seven consecutive games, Michigan (26-11) is one of the most dangerous teams left in the Sweet 16, especially if Walton is able to get back on track. D.J. Wilson also added 17 points for Michigan while senior Zak Irvin also finished in double-figures with 11 points. Walton struggled to find his shot, but still contributed a solid overall floor game as he added six assists and seven rebounds while not turning the ball over one time.

Louisville (25-9) held the lead for the nearly the entire game until Michigan mounted its final charge. The Cardinals held a double-digit rebounding advantage (33-22) over Michigan but they couldn’t knock down perimeter shots as Louisville ended Sunday’s game at 25 percent (5-for-20) from three-point range.

Sophomore Donovan Mitchell paced Louisville with 17 points while Deng Adel had 16 points, including a huge first-half dunk on Wilson that had Banker’s Life Fieldhouse buzzing. Mangok Mathiang tallied 13 points in his final college game for Louisville

Michigan advances to face face the winner of No. 3 seed Oregon and No. 11 seed Rhode Island next week in the Midwest Region. The Wolverines winning also means at least three Sweet 16 teams for the Big Ten as Michigan joins Wisconsin and Purdue in the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend.

No. 2 seed Louisville runs past No. 15 seed Jacksonville State in Midwest Region

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Louisville made easy work of its first opponent as the No. 2 seed Cardinals ran past No. 15 seed Jacksonville State, 78-63, in a Friday first-round game in the Midwest Region.

The Cardinals (25-8) were never seriously threatened on Friday but the Gamecocks also didn’t go away very easily.

Mangok Mathiang led Louisville with 18 points while Deng Adel and Quentin Snider both had 16 points each. Raymond Spaulding also finished in double-figures for the Cardinals with 11 points. Even with sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell having an off-night by only going 3-for-15 from the field, Louisville was able to win by double-figures because of their balanced scoring.

Mitchell still finished with a respectable line of nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Jacksonville State (20-15) was led by Norbertas Giga as he finished with 30 points on 5-for-5 three-point shooting. Giga was 11-for-13 from the field, but he didn’t have enough help on the offensive end as Malcolm Drumwright (12 points) and Greg Tucker (11 points) were the only other double-figure scorers.

Louisville advances to face red-hot No. 7 seed Michigan on Sunday in Indianapolis after the Wolverines beat Oklahoma State earlier in the day.. This one should be riveting for a second-round matchup as the Wolverines are one of the hottest teams in the country after winning the Big Ten Tournament. The matchup of guards between Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider against Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin should be a ton of fun to watch.

No. 8 Louisville holds off No. 19 Notre Dame

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Louisville avenged a loss from earlier this season on Saturday afternoon as they were able to hold off No. 19 Notre Dame for a 71-64 ACC home win.

The No. 8 Cardinals (24-7, 12-6) lost to Notre Dame earlier this season on the road but Louisville had much stronger overall play from its big men the second time around. Senior Mangok Mathiang stepped up and finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds–including six offensive boards–as the big man provided an interior presence that the Cardinals didn’t have in the first matchup between these two teams.

Louisville’s improved interior play helped them corral 16 offensive rebounds on Saturday afternoon as they outrebounded the Irish 44-27.

Donovan Mitchell paced Louisville with 20 points as the sophomore guard bounced back from a subpar outing in a loss to Wake Forest earlier this week. Junior guard Quentin Snider also had a solid game for the Cardinals as he finished with 17 points and six assists.

Although sophomore forward Deng Adel struggled to a 2-for-8 night from the floor, he did knock down a key three-pointer to help make it a two-possession game as Notre Dame started to make a late rally.

This is a nice win for Louisville to end the regular season but this is still a tough team to get a read on as we inch closer to the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals have a number of talented perimeter options, and a solid stable of interior big men, but it is hard to say what their true ceiling is since so many of their players can have inconsistent day-to-day showings.

If Louisville makes a solid run in the ACC tournament they are going to be in position to be a potential No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. But even with that potentially great seed, it just feels like there hasn’t been very much national championship buzz for Louisville from a national standpoint, even though they sit so highly in the polls at this point in the season and college basketball doesn’t have a consensus national-title favorite.

Maybe Louisville should be happy to fly under-the-radar for this sort of thing. One thing is for certain: I wouldn’t want to face that defense in March.

As for Notre Dame, this loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Irish (23-8, 12-6) as they did everything they could to make a late push in this one. Bonzie Colson paced Notre Dame with 20 points while V.J. Beachem (17 points) and Matt Farrell (11 points) also finished in double-figures.

Notre Dame’s struggles to find scoring outside of its core four (Colson, Beachem, Farrell and Steve Vasturia) has been well-documented and that issue again came to light on Saturday when Vasturia only finished with eight points. Since the Irish didn’t have much help from others to make up for Vasturia’s off-day they ended up playing from behind to close out the game.

This loss shouldn’t be seen as too big of a deal for Notre Dame either way. The Irish are a veteran team that knows what they need to do in order to win. It’ll simply come down to execution for Notre Dame as they ideally need those four guys playing at a high level to make another second-weekend run.