Kuric, Smith and Justice knocked down to walk-ons

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

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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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