By Sam Draut
Three of Louisville’s incoming freshman participated in the 41st Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall.
Quentin Snider, a local prospect from Ballard High School was named MVP after leading his team with nine assists and eight points.
With the graduation of Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson and the departure of Kevin Ware and Chane Behanan, Louisville reloaded with six recruits from the 2014 recruiting class.
“This will be one of better classes we have signed at the University of Louisville,” Coach Rick Pitino said.
Shaqquan Aaron headlines Pitino’s top-five-rated 2014 recruiting class. The Seattle native is rated the 33rd best player in the country by ESPN, receiving offers from Arizona, UCLA, UNLV and USC among others.
Aaron is a six-foot-seven wing with the ability to play multiple positions. Along with his athleticism and length, Aaron handles and distributes the ball well.
“He is a very well coached winner,” Pitino said. “He has unbelievable potential, I just love this young man’s game.”
Offensively, he is a gifted scorer who can create his own shot by slashing to the rim while his jump shot continues to improve.
At just 175 pounds, Aaron will need to add to his frame to compete in the ACC.
Quentin Snider ended up sticking with his hometown team after an odd recruiting process that went on throughout his high school career.
Snider committed to Louisville during his sophomore year, but then de-committed the summer going into his senior year. Snider committed to Illinois in the fall, but signed with Louisville in November.
“At the last second, he had second thoughts, he always wanted to be a Louisville Cardinal,” Pitino said.
The six-foot-one point guard handles the ball well and should run the offense effectively. Snider shoots the ball well off the catch and the dribble and also has the ability to streak by slower defenders to the rim.
He was ranked the 40th player in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN.
Chinanu Onuaku chose Louisville over Georgetown, Connecticut, and Miami among others. ESPN ranked him as the 75th best player in the 2014 recruiting class while Scout.com ranked him as the ninth best center.
His brother Arinze Onuaku played four years at Syracuse from 2006-10 averaging 9.2 points per game.
Similar to his brother, Onuaku is a strong rebounder whose primary impact comes on the defense end of the floor. In the Derby Festival Basketball Classic, he had seven points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
“He is physically ready, unlike the other guys he is physically ready, he doesn’t have to put on a lot of weight,” Pitino said. “He has great upside.”
Onuaku will continue to work on his offensive game, but with his six-foot-ten, 232-pound frame, he should be able to body with other bigs early on.
Anas Osama Mahmoud was a late addition to the Cardinals recruiting class, signing his letter of intent on March 3.
The seven-foot-one center was ranked as the 99th-best player by ESPN. Mahmoud is long and athletic, but at just 197 pounds, he will need to bulk up to defend heavier players in the post.
The Egyptian native chose Louisville over Georgia Tech and Minnesota.
Jaylen Johnson is a six-foot-nine power forward ranked 14th nationally at his position by Scout.com. In the Derby Festival Basketball Classic, Johnson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
Johnson, who chose Louisville over Iowa State, Maryland, and Cincinnati among others, is an athletic forward still developing his face-up game.
“He is something we really needed. He is long, he scores, he is an excellent defensive player. Everything we want in a stretch four is exactly what he is,” Pitino said.
The biggest mystery in the Cardinals 2014 recruiting class is Norwegian center Matz Stockman. The seven-foot-two big man signed with Louisville on November 19 as a relatively unknown name.
“He has great touch, he is a left hander, great wingspan, seven,” Pitino said.
Rated as the 19th-best center in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN, Stockman has shown ample ability on the offensive end, but will need to continue to develop his game.