Wayne Blackshear new gym rat, new team captain

Rick Pitino is determined to bring out the best in Wayne Blackshear, declaring that the sole returning senior will be the captain of the 2014-15 University of Louisville basketball team.

That’s Pitino doing his motivational thing again, taking extraordinary measures to get into a young man’s head, adding the burden of leadership to a role player, calculating that Blackshear will respond in a positive way, and live up to the expectations that eluded him during his first three seasons.Wayne-Blackshear

Reminiscent of his declaring Larry O’Bannon a team captain going into his senior year. The following season he would become one of the go-to shooters, improving his field goal percentage from 38% to 49% and his scoring from 10.3 to 15.2 points per game. He was a pivotal player on UofL’s surprising Final Four team that year.

Pitino called Blackshear out during his post-season press conference, saying Blackshear was the only player in the past four years who hasn’t had substantial improvement.

“If you ask me to rate him as a person on a 10-point scale, I’d give him an 11,” he said. “But I told Wayne that you reap what you sow in this game. He’ll show up for practice and he’ll give me 100%.

“I told him, son, that’s not what you do here. The Luke Hancocks, the Russ Smiths, the Gorgui Diengs, they get in early, they stay late, they come in after, they come in at night time, and you’re not doing that. We have to turn over a whole new leaf. From this point on, I want you to text me every single day what you put into each day.

“For his own sake, he has to wake up and understand that the world will pass him by if he doesn’t live in that gym. He’a a great kid and he deserves a great senior year … I’m hoping Wayne has the same kind of senior year that Larry O’Bannon had.”

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.