It was a good night for the University of Louisville in 's Derby Classic, as the three players who will play for the Cardinals next year all played well and the one player they are still actively recruiting in the game ended up being the MVP for his team.
We're talking about 6-foot-10 Gorgui Sy Dieng from Huntington (Prep) W.V., who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, eight blocked shots, and 7-10 field goals. However, even more important, Dieng did a good job of setting picks and screens, running the court, and not being mechanical, like so many foreign big men are during the first year or two after they arrive in this country.
But it's his upside and potential that should really get Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino and his staff excited. Dieng not only has the size, natural talent, and athleticism to evolve into the next Nazr Mohammed, but he also is a lot better than Mohammed was at the same stage.
And, if Dieng was not named the MVP for his team, 6-4 Justin Coleman from Huntington (Prep) W.V., who verbally committed to the Cardinals two months ago, would have been. Coleman finished with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 3-of-7 from 3-point range, five rebounds, four assists, and five turnovers and brought the house down with some acrobatic moves to the basket and several incredible dunks.
The other two Louisville recruits also played well, as 6-2 Russell Smith from South Kent (Prep) Conn., finished with 12 points, 5-13 field goals, 2-6 3-pointers, six rebounds, five assists, two turnovers, and two steals, and 5-11 Elisha Justice from Pikeville (Shelby Valley) Ky., had 12 points 5-11 field goals, 2-4 3-pointers, five assists, two turnovers, and four steals. Justice also was a crowd favorite due to the fact that he has already accepted a spot as a preferred walk-on at the University of Louisville and now appears to be getting interest from the University of Kentucky, which may offer him a scholarship. Either way Justice promises to be a good role player at the high major level. On the other hand, this tough hardnosed competitor who can shoot the lights out, has deceptive speed and quickness, and is always round the ball would be a great catch for somebody at the lower Division I level. All he lacks is size!
The best player on the losing White Team was 6-2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Birmingham Detroit Country) Mich., who not only scored a game-high 25 points, but also finished with seven assists, three turnovers, one steals, 7-12 field goals, 4-7 3-pointers, and 7-8 free throws and was the guy primarily responsible for getting his team to come back from a big second-quarter deficit to make things interesting down the stretch. In other words, McCallum more than lived up to his reputation of being a McDonald's All-American.