By Gabriel Wiest–

Opening his second season with the Cardinals, head coach Chris Mack is already leaving his mark. Ranked No. 5 nationally, Louisville has already entered the national championship conversation just two years into the Mack era.

Contributing to Mack’s success is his most recent recruiting class, ranked within the top 15 nationally.

Sophomore Dwayne Sutton made a good first impression against Miami, scoring 16 points against them this season. Freshman Samuell Williamson came in with the heat, scoring 13 points. This year, Mack scored graduate transfer Lamarr Kimble who will make an impact on the program as well, who started for Saint Joesph’s University for two years totaling 958 points.

Junior Jordan Nwora will lead scoring for the Cardinals this season, starting off with 23 points against Miami. In an exhibition game against Bellarmine University, Nwora scored a parasol record of 27 points. Nwora trained extensively for this season by attending an NBA training camp.

Nwora has major hype behind him entering the 2019-20 season as pre-season ACC Player of the Year. Last season, Nwora led the Cardinals in scoring and averaging 17.9 points a game. Nwora is expected to excel past this, with major help from the freshmen class and returning players.

Players like Nwora are important to building up the Cardinals and also making the first big steps in Mack’s legacy. Along with this, a promising freshmen class¬†signals that Mack is not only making the best out of what he had post-Pitino era but is drawing in new talent.

It is important to note what Mack has accomplished given his circumstances.

Mack inherited a team in shambles after Pitino, compounded by restricted resources due to sanctions. While Louisville had a mediocre season last year, Mack suffered from past stigmas.

The Pitino era scandals also demoralized Louisville fans. To turn the team around, Mack had to establish trust with Card Nation. While people often think sports are mostly focused on the talent of athletes and coaches, it is a struggle when fans are apprehensive.

With basketball hype at a three-year high, fans have come to move past scandals and focus on what really matters – basketball. Mack has not only helped distance the Cardinals from a conflicting past but set eyes on a seemingly bright future.

Louisville has already started the season strong with their first away win 87-74 against Miami. The Cardinals also faced off against Youngstown State in their home opener on the newly designed court. Louisville dominated against Youngstown, taking a 78-55 win on Nov. 10.

While it is too early to tell if the Cardinals will be in the running for a 2020 national title, it is impossible to keep this team out of the conversation.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal