Louisville reserve center Zach Price created a stir last Friday with a series of tweets hinting that he was contemplating transferring from Rick Pitino's program.
Tuesday, during a press conference unveiling Pitino's new Maker's Mark commemorative bottle, the recently elected Hall of Fame coach said Price most likely won't return to Louisville for his junior season.
"If he goes it's not a big deal," stated Pitino, who hinted at the possibility of a late roster addition to fill the scholarship vacated by Price. "You're not going to hold onto everybody. If he does leave we wish him well and hope he has great success. I would say he's gone because our players don't tweet, so that's a good indication. I spoke to him by text because he missed some summer classes, so that's [another] indication."
After Pitino's remarks, Price wrote this on his Twitter page:
"Cardinal fans are the best fans this country has to offer for any college sport. I appreciate the love, and God bless you all! It was truly a pleasure playing for this university."
Price played sparingly in his two seasons at Louisville and wasn't a factor during the Cardinals march to the national championship this season. He was in California late last week and hasn't reported back to campus for summer school and the start of individual instruction drills.
While Price hasn't returned, most of Louisville's returning players are currently on campus, including three of the four incoming recruits. According to Pitino, five-star point guard Terry Rozier is the only recruit that hasn't reported to campus. Pitino also said Final Four MOP Luke Hancock isn't on campus (World University Games tryouts).
"He's getting ready to get here," Pitino said of Rozier, who is expected to make a major impact next season.
Pitino also voiced pleasure that freshman forward Akoy Agau reported to campus in great shape after being out of condition at the Kentucky Derby Classic in April.
'I called him up and said, 'Listen, you're going to be in the shock of your life you better do something about it,' Pitino said. "He looks great and he's lost 28 pounds."
"I think he's going to be part of this touring team," Pitino said.
With Smith, Hancock, Harrell and several other key components from a national title team returning next season, Pitino sounds confident his Cardinals can make another Final Four run in 2013-14.
"We don't need a whole lot," said Pitino. "We're very comfortable with what we have right now. What we have to do more than anything else is see see how good Mangok Mathiang is. He's the one person we don't know about. I know he's very gifted athletically but I have not seen him in a basketball environment."
Even without Gorgui Dieng, who is projected to be a first round NBA Draft selection, and Peyton Siva, who appears to have solidified himself as a second round NBA Draft pick, Pitino believes Louisville can compensate without two of the biggest stars from this year's championship team.
"This team showed a lot of fortitude and we have a lot coming back," Pitino said. "Now, are we losing Peyton and Gorgui, two tremendous personalities and players? Yes. But the likes of Chris Jones, Anton [Gill] and [Terry] Rozier, added to what we have coming back I think we'll make up for it."
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