UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE NOTEBOOK

Preseason honors piling up for Nwora, No. 5 Cards

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- With Louisville's season basketball opener just two weeks away, Jordan Nwora continues to rack up preseason honors, adding the most prestigious so far Tuesday when he was named to the Associated Press All-American team.

The 6-8 junior forward was joined on the team by Marquettte's Markus Howard, Seton Hall's Myles Powell, Cassius Winston of Michigan State and James Wiseman of Memphis. Nwora is the first UofL player to achieve the honor since Montrezl Harrell in 2013.

Nwora was already named the Preseason ACC Player of the Year. He is also a first-team preseason All-American by CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Athlon, the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook and was a second-team selection by Street & Smith’s Basketball Yearbook.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he was noted as the top small forward in the nation by NCAA.com’s Andy Katz and is among 20 watch list members for the 2020 Julius Erving Award, presented annually to the nation’s top small forward.

Honored as the 2019 ACC Most Improved Player, Nwora was the third-most improved scorer in the nation last season with his 17.0 scoring average (sixth in the ACC), up 11.3 points per game from his 5.7 average as a freshman. He also led the Cards in rebounding at 7.7 per game.

Nwora, who returned to UofL after withdrawing from the NBA draft this past spring, says his main focus this season will be to keep improving. If that happens, he could be an NBA lottery pick next spring.

"I remember who I was when I got here, and how I’ve gotten better every year, and I just want to keep doing that," Nwora said. "I’m always going to be in the gym and keep working hard because somebody else is working, too. That sounds cliché, but it’s true."

Louisville is also the subject of high expectations as a team this season. The Cards are ranked No. 5 in the AP preseason poll and will probably be close to the same spot when the USA Today coaches poll is released in the next few days. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects UofL as a No. 1 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

The Cards' No. 5 ranking is their highest in preseason since 2013 when they were ranked No. 3 in both polls to start the season and went on to win the national championship.

Also, Louisville is rated third, one spot behind Kentucky, in Ken Pomeroy's first computer analysis at KenPom.com. He projects the Cards to finish 25-6 overall and tie Duke for the ACC title at 15-5.

U of L will play Bellarmine in an exhbition game in the KFC Yum! Center Tuesday night, then open the regular season in an ACC game at Miami on Nov. 5.

SECRET SCRIMMAGE

Louisville and No. 18 Ohio State played a "secret scrimmage" Sunday in the KFC Yum! Center. Under NCAA rules, neither team was allowed to publicize the game or publish official statistics and no one was allowed to watch outside of team personnel.

However, several media sites have confirmed that the Buckeyes won the scrimmage 80-69, for whatever that's worth, which isn't much, especially since both teams were missing injured players.

McDONNELL LIFETIME UofL BASEBALL COACH

Louisville's Athletic Association Board of Directors has approved new contract terms for highly successful and respected baseball coach Dan McDonnell, hoping to make him its coach for life. The new deal is a rolling seven-year contract, with McDonnell having the option to extend it for one year after every season.

"We talked with Dan last year when he was being approached by other schools and we worked quick to get something in place for him with the notion that we'd look for something longer term for him to be our coach for life and that's what we did today," UofL Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Vince Tyra said in a statement.

With a base salary of $1.5 million per year, McDonnell was already the second-highest-paid coach in college baseball, exceeded only by Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin. The new contract will increase his salary by $50,000 each season in addition to postseason, academic and other bonuses that could total as much as $350,00.

It will also pay him a $250,000 bonus if he remains under contract at the end of the 2020 fiscal year and $300,000 bonuses if he remains under contract at the end of the 2025 and 2028 fiscal years.

Taking over a program in 2006 that had never been to a College World Series, McDonnell quickly turned UofL into a perennial national power. Over the last 13 years, the Cards have made five trips to the CWS, won eight regional championships and had 84 players selected in the major league baseball draft.

He has also been a much-respected goodwill ambassador for the university and he, his family and team have been active in community service endeavors.

"We have loved our 13 years in Louisville and have been blessed to raise Jake and Justin here," McDonnell said in a statement, referring to his sons. "People make experiences special and memorable and the city of Louisville, and all its great fans, have treated us like family.

"Most importantly, the assistant coaches, players and support staff are the reasons for all the success on and off the field. The wins stand out, but I am just as proud of our accomplishments in the classroom, the ability to graduate student-athletes with the challenging dynamic of the amateur draft, and the effort with our community service."

The Cards advanced to the CWS last year and finished ranked No. 3 by Baseball America. They are No. 4 in a preseason poll by NCAA.com.

UofL also financially enhanced the contracts of two other head coaches -- swimming and diving coach Arthur Albiero and women's soccer coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes -- to a much lesser degree.

Albiero's contract for $250,000 running through 2026 will be extended automatically each time one of the programs qualifies for the NCAA meet. Ferguson-Dayes was given a $30,000 base salary raise from $150,000 to $180,000 through 2022, and $190,000 in 2023 and 2024, plus incentives.

BRANCH HONORED AS ACC LEGEND

Former UofL wide receiver and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Deion Branch was named to the 2019 Atlantic Coast Conference Football Legends class announced Wednesday morning.

The 14-member group of honorees includes Boston College's Joe Nash; Clemson's Brian Dawkins; Duke's Christopher Port; Florida State's Ron Sellers; Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan; Miami's Bernie Kosar; North Carolina's Julius Peppers; NC State's Nate Irving; Pitt's Rickey Jackson; Syracuse's Joe Morris Virginia's Don Majkowski; Virginia Tech's DeAngelo Hall and Wake Forest's Bob McCeary.

This year's class will be honored during the ACC Night of Legends presented by the Charlotte Sports Foundation at the Charlotte Convention Center, on Dec. 6, and during the on-field pregame festivities at the 15th annual ACC Football Championship Game, set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.


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 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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