CRAWFORD | Pitino doubles down on ‘done and one’ recruits with a - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Pitino doubles down on ‘done and one’ recruits with addition of Penn’s Hicks

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AP photo. AP photo.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville coach Rick Pitino has found himself a niche.

It’s little surprise that Pitino’s latest commitment comes from another graduate transfer, Penn’s Tony Hicks, a 6-2 guard who led Penn in scoring in each of the past two seasons, including 14.9 points per game last season in passing the 1,000-point career plateau.

Even as talk heats up about whether to continue to allow graduate students with remaining eligibility to transfer and play immediately, Pitino appears poised to take advantage of the rule.

You can see where the practice fits Pitino’s preferences.

He gets players who have had college coaching, who know something about the way the game is played, who have played in road environments, and who arrive with a sense of urgency, highly motivated to make their one chance at Louisville work.

Damion Lee and Trey Lewis arrived in the summer, immediately worked to build relationships with current players, and have been without question effective leaders this season.

Hicks will earn his degree from Penn in May, then arrive in Louisville for next summer, following the same route. He’ll arrive after the departure of Lewis, and will be expected to provide immediate back-court help. He shot 37.1 percent from three-point range in his final season at Penn.

Hicks announced in October that he would sit out the 2015-16 season. His time at Penn wasn’t without incident. He was suspended from the team four times in three seasons, including once in 2012 for failing a drug test.

The transfers aren’t without their own challenges, Pitino said late last year, but they provide great advantages.

“The most difficult thing is getting them integrated into what you do in a very short period,” Pitino said. “But it's much easier on them than it is for a freshman because they are guys who have been through the mill and, you know, with both guys, what you look for with a fifth-year player is hunger, because neither guy has played in an NCAA Tournament, and you're looking at a program that they know has been to four straight Sweet 16s, and if you don't get to that level at least, we're devastated here. So that’s a big attraction , so we bring to the table everything that they want."

Coaches, in general, seem to be coming down against the practice of graduate transfers.

They don’t like players being able to leave a school and play at a different school without sitting out. Cleveland State coach Gary Waters, who lost Lewis to Louisville, called it “a bad business all the way around,” in part because the number of graduate transfers is increasing.

No less a voice than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has been critical o the practice, prompting a response from Pitino on his radio show in December.

“I heard Coach K say the other night that he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t think it’s right,” Pitino told Paul Rogers on his weekly coaches program from Learfield Sports. “And I don’t think it’s right to have one and dones either, so let’s keep it the way it is. I won’t knock your one and dones, don’t knock my one and dones.”

With Louisville being led in scoring by two graduate transfers, it’s hard to knock Pitino’s results.

And he’s riding the wave while it lasts.

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