Kuric, Smith and Justice knocked down to walk-ons

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

RELATED POST: Is Louisville’s “roster management” really oversigning?

At its press conference this morning, Louisville announced that basketball players Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith and Elisha Justice, all of whom were on scholarship last season, will be walk-ons in 2011-12.

To be fair, all three were recruited to Louisville as walk-ons, then received scholarships. To be fair, all three were part of a team that lost a first-round game to an in-state mid-major in the NCAA Tournament last March, a loss so devastating Rick Pitino talked of perhaps retiring.

Instead, he decided to get better players. And move other players off scholarship. As the Couier-Journal’s Eric Crawford points out, Kuric is the Cards’ top returning scorer. And before UK fans starting pointing fingers, as Crawford points out, Tubby Smith did the same thing to Marquis Estill.

An excerpt:

Of this particular scholarship move, Pitino said, “When Kyle first came here, he wasn’t supposed to be on scholarship and he was put on scholarship. Bullet (Elisha Justice) was coming here he wasn’t supposed to be on scholarship, he was put on scholarship. Chris Smith was not supposed to be on scholarship, he was put on scholarship. I told the Kuric family at some point in time throughout his career I might need it for a year and I’ve never had to do that until now. So we’ve been very up front with everybody.”

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  1. Davis says:

    I remember Estill being fairly willing to do it because he was (a) in-state and (b) qualified for financial aid due to his family’s financial status.

  2. Lori M says:

    Davis, you’re memory is accurate.

  3. John Clay says:

    And the three Louisville players may have been willing, as well.

  4. JHB4UK says:

    18 ballplayers on their roster now. So strange Pitino and UL fans think having a legion of players is the route to sucess. It is as if UK riding a 6 man rotation to a great season and a Final 4 didn’t just happen.

  5. Richard says:

    Unlike some conferences where 2/3 of your games are cakewalks, you need depth in the Big East. A 6 man rotation won’t fly when you play teams like UConn, Syracuse, Nova, Pitt, Notre Dame, Cincy, and Georgetown on a nightly basis.

    And the author forgot to mention that Chris Smith was never supposed to have a scholarship because his brother who plays for the Nuggets agreed to pay his tuition when he transferred here. Unlike some schools where players are paid to play, we actually have kids willing to pay to play at UofL.