First and foremost, it's still unclear where exactly his scholarship is coming from. If I had to guess, now that it's a done deal, it will be announced that Rakeem Buckles will be moving to his homestate of Florida to finish his rehab and college career with Richard Pitino. It's almost comical how closed off and secretive Cardinal basketball has become under Rick Pitino. I think it was always his inclination and taken to another level after the Sypher scandal. Big Rick has his circle of trust, and he doesn't appear to be in much of a hurry to enlighten the rest of us on how this roster is going to shake out.
Two, it makes what happened to Jared Swopshire even more difficult to defend. The scholarship crunch couldn't be worked out for Swop, but it could be for a highly-touted chiseled forward with a great motor.
Three. The assistant coaching staff is earning its stripes. Because of the clannishness of the program spoken of above, it's often difficult to determine the relative contributions of the assistants, and the new guys have had scant opportunity to show they could get it done on the recruiting trail. Kevin Keatts, in particular, with his connections to Hargrave Military Academy is now doing just that.
Four, and the really fun part. This team is now officially fully loaded. Harrell is Behanan 2.0. Strong, long and athletic with a good burst. He averaged 28 points and 13 rebounds for Hargrave last year, including one game when he threw down 18 dunks en route to a 51 points, 17 rebounds and six block performance; he's certainly not a "below the rim" player. Imagining he and Chane battling in practice, pushing each other and making the other better is a salivating prospect.
The stable is chock full of talented and athletic players. Pitino will be able to run the grueling practices at high-intensity in preparation for the dialed-up fullcourt pressure; he now has the bodies to play the system the way he likes it played.
So a Final Four team returns its core, adds a healthy Wayne Blackshear, has quality backups at nearly every position (Siva's backup is still the only question mark) and lives and breathes defense. There will be stumbles along the way, there always will be with UofL. But this is Pitino's deepest and most talented Cardinal team by far. It's the perfect blend of experience and blue-chip talent.
For the first time in my life, or at least old enough to appreciate it, we're looking at a team with juggernaut potential.
Here's what all the fuss is about. Don't watch if you're squeamish about man-on-rim violence.