LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - News and notes from the University of Louisville basketball scene while missing the NCAA Sweet 16 this week and waiting for UofL coach Chris Mack to take a few minutes out of his now less-than-packed schedule to finally make himself available to local media outlets.
First the bad news.
Jay Scrubb, the nation's No. 1 junior college prospect and UofL signee, will participate in the NBA Draft's evaluation process -- just as Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch did last year -- before deciding whether to turn pro or join the Cardinals this summer.
Though it was pretty much expected, Scrubb's move is potentially a severe blow for Mack, who must replace six departing players who formed the core this past season's team. The only returnees with signficiant experience are guard David Johnson, center Malik Williams and forward Samuell Williamson.
"We're still deciding on an agent and also if it's in his best interest to sign," Scrubb's father, Jason Scrubb, told 247sports.com. "He wants to be a pro athlete, but he does love Louisville."
However, Jason Scrubb left no doubt about his son's preference.
"Jay's focus right now is trying to be a pro player, and we want the NBA to take him serious," the elder Scrubb said. "Some execs aren't sure if he's going to go to school or try for the NBA. With the timeline, we don't know when we would hear from the NBA."
Scrubb, a 6-foot-6 wing, is a Louisville native and played for Trinity High School before attending John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois. He attracted early notice from the NBA as a freshman when he averaged 20.2 points per game and hit 46.4 percent of his 3-pointers. This past season he averaged 21.9 points and 6.8 rebounds.
The only other scholarship players in UofL's 2020 class at this point are 7-2 JJ Traynor and 6-5 swingman D'Andre Davis.
The last JUCO player to get drafted was another UofL commit, 6-7 forward Donta Smith, who went in the second round (34th overall) to the Atlana Hawks in 2004. He spent two seasons with the Hawks and has since played overseas, most recently with the Levallois Metropolitans in France.
If Scrubb decides to play for Louisvile, he would most likely be an immediate replacement at small forward for Nwora, who led the Cards in scoring and is expected to go pro.
In other recruiting news. . .
--Mack and his staff are also recruiting another JUCO, 6-3 point guard El Ellis, who played one season at Tallahassee Community College, where he won the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards. He averaged 14.3 ppg and 4.4 assists while shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range. Other schools who have offered Ellis include Iowa State, Nebraska, Ole Miss and DePaul.
--The Cards are in the running for one of the top graduate transfers, but it's a crowded field. Quinnipiac forward Kevin Marfo, who led NCAA Division I in rebounding at 13.3 per game, has included UofL on a list of 16 programs he is considering, according to Rivals.com.
Marfo (6-8, 245), who also averaged 10.2 points, told Rivals he has heard from about 40 programs since putting his name in the transfer portal. Besides Louisville, Marfo is considering two other ACC teams, Boston College and Wake Forest, along with teams from the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and others.
--Another high-level transfer receiving interest from UofL is former Wichita State guard Jamarius Burton, according to CBS Sports College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein. The 6-4 Burton averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore this past season. He would be forced to sit out one year after transferring, then would have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
--Brad Colbert, a 6-2 guard with the International Sports Academy at Andrews Osborne in Willoughby, Ohio, near Cleveland, said in a Twitter post that he will join the Cards next season as a walk-on. Colbert is not ranked on any major recruiting outlets.
FOUR ACC TEAMS IN 2021 RANKINGS
Early preseason top-25 lists for 2021 are starting to dribble out, and for the most part Louisville is absent. Most lists have four ACC teams ranked -- Duke, Virginia, Florida State and North Carolina.
Here's how the ACC is ranked so far:
ESPN: 6. Duke; 8. Virginia; 11. North Carolina; 22. Florida State.
USA TODAY: 3. Virginia; 6. Duke; 9. Florida State; 18. North Carolina. (UofL is listed as under consideration).
NBC SPORTS: 5. Virginia; 11. Florida State; 12. Duke; 15. North Carolina; 16. Louisville.
FANSIDED: 5. Virginia; 8. Duke; 9. Florida State; 20. North Carolina.
247 SPORTS: 2. Virginia; 5. Florida State; 6. Duke; 12. North Carolina.
NWORA THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
It's unanimous: Nwora is a third-team All-American, having been placed in that slot by the seven organizations that have released lists so far. Latest is the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), whose first team consisted of Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), Luka Garza (Iowa), Markus Howard (Marquette), Payton Pritchard (Oregon) and Obi Toppin (Dayton).
Second-team selections were Devon Dotson (Kansas), Malachi Flynn (San Diego State), Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga), Myles Powell (Seton Hall) and Cassius Winston (Michigan State). Joining Nwora on the third team are Jared Butler (Baylor), Vernon Carey (Duke), Tre Jones (Duke) and Jalen Smith (Maryland).
Nwora is the Cardinals' 21st All-America selection and first since Russ Smith was a consensus first team choice in 2014. He has also been named to All-America third teams by The Associated Press, The Sporting News, US Basketball Writers Association, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Athletic.
EX-UofL AIDE PAULUS HONORED
Former UofL assistant Greg Paulus, now the head coach at Niagara, has been named winner of the Joe B. Hall Coach of the Year award given to the best first-year head coach in men's college basketball by a panel of current coaches, former coaches and sportswriters.
Paulus took over at Niagara five months ago after Patrick Beilein resigned before the start of the season. The Purple Eagles were picked to finish 10th in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but posted a 9-11 league record and wound up sixth.
Paulus, a point guard for Duke from 2005-09, was an assistant under interim Louisville coach David Padgett in 2017-18. During the 2018-19 season he was an assistant at George Washington.
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.