Rick Pitino might not acknowledge it, but a primary reason he opted to coach the Puerto Rico national team was to help secure one of the top juniors in the country.
So far, however, things aren’t going according to plan.
Ricky Ledo, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Rhode Island whose father is Puerto Rican — and who topped Louisville’s recruiting list for the Class of 2012 — opted to stay home and committed to Keno Davis and the Providence Friars on Christmas, just days after Pitino made it official with a news conference introducing him as Puerto Rico’s coach.
“It was tempting,” Ledo told FOXSports.com. “But I just felt like Louisville kept getting more (players at Ledo’s position).”
Don’t expect Pitino to bail on his duties with Puerto Rico, though. Despite the fact that Ledo is just in high school and committed to Providence, look for him to be given a spot on the team.
And after a few months of Pitino working with Ledo, you never know what could happen.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Butler — Brad Stevens and the Bulldogs took a hit early this season with four losses, but this program struggled early last season and wound up within a bucket of winning the national title. I’m not saying they’ll return to the championship game, but Butler did get a couple of quality wins en route to the Diamond Head Classic title in Hawaii.
STUD (PLAYER OF WEEK): Washington State came up short against Butler in the championship game in Hawaii, but it wasn’t because of Klay Thompson. The smooth 6-foot-6 junior went for 28 points in the opening game, a win against Mississippi State, followed it up with 20 points despite battling foul trouble in a victory over Baylor, and then had 31 in a losing effort against Butler. Thompson made 13 of 25 shots from beyond the arc in the three games.
MOST IMPRESSIVE WIN: I know Michigan State already had lost three games — at Duke, in Maui against UConn and in New York to Syracuse. But Texas’ victory over Tom Izzo’s team came in East Lansing against a group that clearly needed a résumé victory. The Longhorns got strong play from sophomore scoring wing Jordan Hamilton and freshman big man Tristan Thompson.
SHOWCASE PERFORMANCE: It’s time to give more credit for playing the other end of the floor. Florida State’s long and talented forward Chris Singleton went for a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in a 68-61 win against Baylor in Hawaii, but it wasn’t his offensive efficiency that was so impressive. It was his work on the defensive end against a ridiculously long Baylor frontline.
WEEK TO FORGET: Kansas State — Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly were suspended by the NCAA for basically getting price cuts by someone working the register at a department store. Both players were suspended just before the Wildcats’ loss to UNLV and remain out. Pullen will miss three games, while the length of Kelly’s suspension is uncertain.
DUD: Usually we try to avoid calling out a player in this space and reserve it for a team. However, this week two guys are more than worthy: Mississippi State big men Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey. The teammates fought each other in the stands while watching another game at the Diamond Head Classic. Both were suspended indefinitely and sent home.
WORST LOSS: Florida losing to Jacksonville at home Monday afternoon in a matinee. The Gators were projected as a team capable of making a deep tournament run, but Billy Donovan’s team will need to excel in SEC play just to get back to the Big Dance.
UNDER-THE-RADAR DEBUT: Isiah Thomas and Florida International snapped a five-game losing streak with a win against Florida A&M in which Thomas’ most highly regarded recruit, forward Dominique Ferguson, finally made his college debut with 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Ferguson didn’t qualify to play in the fall.
UNDERRATED RETURN: Minnesota’s lone loss of the season came at home to Virginia in the Gophers’ first of five games without starting point guard Al Nolan. Nolan returned from injury last week and played 23 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in a win against South Dakota State. His return is huge for a team that opens against Wisconsin this week in Big Ten play.
FEELING SORRY FOR: Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg. The Hokies, who barely missed out on getting to the NCAA Tournament the past couple of years, returned everyone this season. However, with Dorenzo Hudson and Cadarian Raines out for the season because of foot injuries, Greenberg has lost four of his top nine players.
MID-MAJOR TEAM OF THE WEEK: Presbyterian was coming off a win against Auburn, so there was no way the Blue Hose could pull off two straight wins against BCS teams, right? Wrong — as Gregg Nibert’s team knocked off Wake Forest, 66-64.
UNBEATENS: The list of unbeatens is down to eight after Northwestern went down. The Big East still has a trio: UConn, Syracuse and Cincinnati. Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, San Diego State and Central Florida are the others without a blemish.
STILL LOOKING: There are still a half-dozen winless teams, including a pair, Alcorn State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, out of the SWAC. UMBC, Colgate, UNC Greensboro and Centenary are the other D-1 teams without a victory.
WEEK’S TOP MATCHUPS:
1) Kentucky at Louisville, Friday at noon ET — This matchup doesn’t hold quite the allure that it has in the past — or that it will in the next couple of years — but it’s still a terrific rivalry, and the hatred between John Calipari and Rick Pitino doesn’t hurt, either.
2) UConn at Pittsburgh, Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET — The Huskies and Kemba Walker were terrific in Maui but have had an easy slate since returning from Hawaii. The Panthers’ only slip-up came against Tennessee. Still a battle of top-10 teams.
3) Minnesota at Michigan State, Friday at 4 p.m. ET — The Gophers’ only loss came without starting point guard Al Nolan at home against Virginia, while Tom Izzo and the 8-4 Spartans have struggled to beat Top 25 teams.
4) Georgetown at Notre Dame, Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET — The Hoyas already have proven they are for real, but this is a chance for Mike Brey’s Fighting Irish to make a statement.
5) Florida at Xavier, Friday at 4 p.m. ET — The Gators have been difficult to figure and recently lost to Central Florida and Jacksonville. Xavier could use this one at home after dropping one in Washington against Gonzaga.
6) Washington at UCLA, Friday at 4 p.m. ET — Neither team is ranked, but the winner will have an early edge in Pac-10 play. The Huskies were the preseason conference favorites while the Bruins have improved from a year ago, but how much?