By Conner Farrell —
As the 2018-19 men’s college basketball season has wrapped up with a new national champion, Louisville is already making preparations for next season.
On April 3, head coach Chris Mack gave his end-of-season recap. He detailed a number of areas of focus during the summer as well as an update on where the roster will be moving forward.
With the known departures of graduate transfers Christen Cunningham, Khwan Fore and Akoy Agau, Mack discussed a trio of walk-ons that entered their names into the NCAA transfer portal.
“All three of our walk-ons have put their name in the portal,” Mack said. “I don’t know when those decisions were made, personally, but obviously they were in the computer when they were.”
Those three walk-ons are sophomore guards Jo Griffin and Jacob Redding and freshmen guard Wyatt Battaile. The three logged a collective 25 minutes this past season.
In addition to that anticipated turnover on the roster, two potential changes remain to be seen as sophomore forward Jordan Nwora and redshirt junior center Steven Enoch will make decisions on whether to depart for the NBA.
The pair announced in late March that they were entering their names in the upcoming NBA Draft, but they did not sign agents and left the door open for a return to Louisville after gaining feedback from NBA franchises. The early withdrawal date for players wanting to return to the collegiate level is May 30.
“It’s 2019. Rosters are fluid, so my job is to be very honest with our players. And I expect them to be honest with me in terms of what their expectations are,” Mack said about turnover with next year’s roster.
“So, to say that we sit right here and we’re ready for the 2019-20 season, in terms of what our roster will look like, that would probably be inaccurate,” Mack said.
Mack is correct, as it is improbable to know what the roster will specifically look like come the November 3 tip-off game against Miami. Still, predictions can be made for what the team has in store for next season.
Louisville is adding the No. 8 overall recruiting class in the nation, according to scout.com. The Cards will also bring back five players who played meaningful minutes this past season.
With the exact roster not likely to be known in early April, two questions are waiting to be answered about the 2019-20 team.
The first question: Who will man the point guard position? With the departure of Cunningham, the heir apparent would be junior Darius Perry, who came on strong late in the season as the second ball handler.
Redshirt senior Ryan McMahon could also be in play for that starting role, so it will be interesting to see who grabs the reins. If another scholarship opens for the team, Mack could also recruit another graduate transfer to take the job.
Another scenario is having one of the incoming freshman take point guard responsibilities, although there is no true point guard in the class. Incoming guard and Louisville native David Johnson could be a name as a potential answer.
The second question: What will the roster look like with a crowded front court? This will have a difficult answer if both Nwora and Enoch decide to remain in Louisville.
The incoming class features two post players in the “Irish Hulk” Aidan Igiehon and Jaelyn Withers. Add junior Malik Williams and seniors Dwayne Sutton and V. J. King, and the Cardinals are in the midst of a good problem to have. Having an abundance of front court players is much better than not having enough like with this past season.
Again, it is early April and the roster is not going to be set for a while. Nonetheless, in the basketball-obsessed city of Louisville, the Cardinals on the court are always on the minds of Cardinal faithful.
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File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal