Donovan Mitchell was an unknown quantity a couple of months ago, just a top 100 recruit looking for some attention from college basketball coaches.
A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Wolfeboro Brewster in New Hampster, Mitchell did just that during the summer recruiting camps, attracting attention from a long list of colleges that included Boston College, Creighton, Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, Providence, Villanova and others.
Among the others was the University of Louisville. Rick Pitino was on hand at an Under Armor camp in Atlanta last month when Mitchell lit up the gymnasium scoring 27 points, setting off a recruiting frenzy for one of the summer’s hottest stars.
Mitchell visited UofL on Thursday and wasted little time making a verbal commitment to become a part of the 2015 recruiting class. If reports are accurate, the newest commit is equally impressive on both ends of the court. Eric Bossi, a recruiting analyst for Rivals. told the Kansas Jayhawks Slant last week:
A prolific shooter, a serious defender and a good student as well, Mitchell should be a good fit in Pitino’s system. No dragging out the recruiting process, he’s decisive, capitalizing quickly on a great opportunity at UofL.
Anthony Kidston hasn’t lost a baseball game since he arrived at the University of Louisville two years ago. He was 5-0 as a freshman, he’s 8-0 this season after UofL defeated Kansas 6-3 Saturday to assure the Cardinals will be in the championship game of NCAA Regional.
His personal winning streak dates back to his senior season at Defiance, Ohio, where he won nine games without a loss and compiled an earned run average of 0.59. He was also a decent hitter, batting .404 while driving in 33 runs that year In other words, he’s a winner.
Through the first four innings Saturday, Kidston had allowed only two hits while holding the Jawhawks scoreless. Kansas would score its first run after a walk and two singles. He would leave the bases loaded.
Dan McDonnell wasn’t about to pull him, however, needing a couple of more innings from the 6-foot-2 righthander. Kidston would give up two more singles, a walk and another run in the sixth, Kansas cutting the deficit to 6-2.
Still had another inning in him, shutting Kansas down 1-2-3 in the seventh. When he retired to the dugout in the eighth inning, Kidston had given up five hits while walking five batters and notching five strikeouts.
Not a masterpiece by any means but a very important win, assuring that UofL has a great shot at a Regional championship. If the Cardinals are successful, they host a Super Regional (after Florida State was eliminated Saturday).
Kansas and Kentucky will meet Sunday at noon in the elimination bracket with Louisville playing the winner of that game at 4 p.m.
The University of Kentucky baseball team was conducting practice at Jim Patterson Stadium but Louisville Coach Dan McDonnell says he hasn’t given much thought to a possible matchup with UK in the NCAA’s Louisville Region this weekend.
“The most important game we have is against Kent State,” he said during a press conference. “It’s the game of the moment. There is no other game.
“We’ve getting a lot of questions about possible match ups but there’s no guarantee we’re playing one of other two teams on the other side (of the bracket). And there’s a good chance we won’t. In just about every regional we host, there’s one team we don’t play. Right now Kent State’s the team. They went to Omaha a few years ago.
“As coaches and players, we have to focus on Kent State. I don’t see a bigger game than that. We hope to be in the winners bracket but I can’t hope, predict or want to play another team. Both of those teams (UK and Kansas) are really good. One of them is our rival, the other we haven’t played.”
McDonnell added that Kansas is really excited about playing in the Regional and reminds him a lot of his first UofL team that went to the College World Series in 2007. “Kansas is super excited about being here and you’ve got to be careful with teams like that. You can’t overlook any team in the NCAA.”
The good news is that the University of Louisville baseball team will be hosting an NCAA Regional this weekend at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The not-so-good news is that Kentucky has been invited, too, bringing with it the sideshow atmosphere that always accompanies the UofL-UK rivalry, including the Kentucky followers.
Louisville’s goal is always to return to the College World Series. But when these two schools get together, often it’s not as much about being the better team as it is about the angst that exists between the programs. Just keeping the the other school from advancing becomes a major issue.
Kent State, the team UofL meets in the opening round at 6 p.m. Friday, and Kansas, which plays UK earlier at 2 p.m., won’t have the emotional involvement and can focus solely on baseball.
UofL lost two games to the Wildcats during the regular season with freshman Josh Rogers on the hill in both games. Hopefully, a couple of the Louisville front liners — like Kyle Funkhouser, Jared Ruxer or Anthony Kidston — will be available if they meet again next weekend.
Not looking ahead or past anyone but a matchup is inevitable.
Attempting to get some perspective on how the University of Louisville fits in the conference expansion picture, the observer contacted a member of the university’s Board of Overseers Wednesday. He’s also served on the board of the U of L Athletic Association, is a staunch fan, highly opinionated and keenly interested in the issue.
The Louisville businessman admitted he’s excited about all the speculation, including mentions of possible tie-ins to the SEC, the Big 12 and the ACC or of a strengthened Big East.
“It’s all highly speculative at the moment and a lot of things can and will happen,” he said. “Tom Jurich doesn’t talk to anybody about the topic. If he’s had any contact with other conferences, we would never know because he’s not about to disclose any information.”
“But there’s nobody I’d rather have representing the University of Louisville at this critical moment. He is very good when it comes to these kinds of situations. He has strongly positioned U of L to take advantage of emerging opportunities.”
The overseer believes the Big East may be a good position to benefit if the college conference landscape continues to change. Especially if the Big 12 Conference is dismantled. “We could have some tremendous rivalries with schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri or Iowa State,” he said. “They’re within reasonable driving distances and our fans could get excited about playing them.”
But he wouldn’t be surprised at anything that happens. “There are some fascinating scenarios,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have Tom Jurich representing us.”