Louisville basketball had a hectic offseason, leaving Chris Mack with plenty of decisions for a lineup.
Louisville basketball has a lot of questions to answer this upcoming season. An off-season that has not gone smoothly for the Cardinal administration or fan base makes the 2021-22 season an interesting one to watch unfold. However, the talent is still there for head coach Chris Mack to make something work.
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PG: Jarrod West (5-11, 180, Gr.-Sr.)
2021 stats: 12.5 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 40.8 3P% (Marshall)
Projected stats: 8.0 points, 5.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 37.5 3P%
SG: Noah Locke (6-3, 205, Sr.)
2021 stats: 10.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 40.4 3P% (Florida)
Projected stats: 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 41.5 3P%
SF: Sam Williamson (6-7, 210, Jr.)
2021 stats: 9.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Projected stats: 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists
PF: Jae’Lyn Withers (6-8, 230, Rs.-So.)
2021 stats: 10.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 38.1 3P%
Projected stats: 14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 39.5 3P%
C: Malik Williams (6-11, 260, Sr.)
2020 stats: 8.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.6 blocks
2021 stats: 5.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 3 GP
Projected stats: 6.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.4 blocks
6: Matt Cross (6-7, 225, So.)
2021 stats: 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 40.0 3P% (Miami Fla)
Projected stats: 7.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 42.0 3P%
7: Dre Davis (6-5, 220, So.)
2021 stats: 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Projected stats: 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists
8: Mason Faulker (6-1, 190, Gr.-Sr.)
2021 stats: 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 35.5 3P% (Western Carolina)
Projected stats: 6.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 37.0 3P%
9: Roosevelt Wheeler (6-10, 240, Fr.)
247Sports #78 overall rated recruit
Projected stats: 3.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.5 blocks
10: El Ellis (6-3, 175, Jr.)
Transfer from Tallahassee CC
Projected stats: 2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds
Team MVP: Jae’Lyn Withers
I’m liking Jae’Lynn Withers. The red-shirt sophomore impressed above and beyond last season, and will likely be the Cardinals’ leading scorer this season. He’s an aggressive rebounder, a tough player to defend, and makes things happen defensively.
Withers will be surrounded by plenty of talent in the starting five, but a lot of them are transfers. He’s a returning player for Louisville, so that makes it all the more likely that he’ll see his name called the most within offensive sets. As an elusive forward, he’s one of the most compelling players to watch in the ACC this season.
Make-Or-Break Player: Malik Williams
You could say this about virtually every player who will see quality minutes this season. But, it has to be Malik Williams. He played in 92 games his first three years and was very productive. He played in only three games last year due to a broken bone in his right foot. He missed the team’s first 15 games, made his debut against Duke on February 20, but re-injured the foot only three games later. Can he return to his previous form? The answer to that question will go a long way to the type of season Louisville will have.
Bench Rating: 6.5/10
There are a lot of options on the Louisville basketball bench, but many are transfers from smaller schools, so it’s really tough to see exactly how they’ll all fit and how big of roles they’ll earn at a powerhouse ACC program.
Cross, Davis, and Faulker have the best chances to play good chunks of minutes, as all of them have at least proven some type of game at the Division I level. After them, it leaves two non-DI talents and a few freshmen, with Roosevelt Wheeler as the Cardinals’ top frosh. Sydney Curry is another transfer unlisted who could crack the rotation for sure.
Analytics to Know: Differentials
I don’t know if this is the actual name for this analytics, but when it came to closely contested basketball games last season, Louisville was often on top. In games decided by three points or less, Louisville basketball was a clean 3-0. You can credit that to Chris Mack knowing how to close out games, which is a big thing to have.
Louisville basketball adds eight newcomers to the fold, highlighted by a pair of transfers head coach Chris Mack will have in his backcourt. The Cards added guards Mason Faulker, by way of Western Carolina, and Jarrod West, from Marshall. The duo combined to score 30 points and dish out over 11 assists per game last year. That productivity will not be duplicated but Faulkner and West bring tons of experience to the backcourt rotation.
Add in a pair of transfers from the Sunshine State and Mack’s team will have a much different look this winter. Uber-talented Matt Cross brings his skills from Miami (Florida), while Noah Locke comes from Florida. Add in a healthy Malik Williams and it won’t be a rebuild for Mack and his new staff. But, they will need to mesh quickly, and without their head coach, to start the season if Louisville basketball wants a chance to hear their name on Selection Sunday.