Rick Pitino vs. John Calipari: A Friendly Recruiting Battle for Elisha Justice

DeAnte MitchellCorrespondent IApril 3, 2010

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 30:  Rick Pitino the Head coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the Big East Conference game against the South Florida Bulls  on December 30, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Rick Pitino all year had received commitments from three recruits: Justin Coleman, Russell Smith, along with Elisha Justice.

Each of these recruits can come in and change the perspective of this program.

Pitino, known as a good recruiter, thought he had a big steal by acquiring Justice as a walk-on player, rather than a scholarship player.

Mr. Kentucky is a 5’11" point guard who had his eyes on Louisville since visiting the school. It seems as if Justice loves the environment, loves the coaches and the school.

Many coaches pass on players of this size, but not Pitino, nor Calipari.

Justice may be a small guard but he is a mismatch in the making. Many guards have problems with players of his caliber due to his quick dribble, and quick first step.

Justice likes to move the tempo, push the ball, and show off his amazing ball-handling skills. Strives in transition and despite his size, he has the ability to finish around the rim.

Likes to drive the lane and get to the basket, but has the basketball I.Q. and knows when he has the shot or when he needs to pass it.

Poised player, very calm, never really forces the action. Justice has the ability to take over games with his skill set. It could be his scoring or assists.

Rick Pitino recognized all this and lured the great prospect into a “soft commitment” to Louisville.

In the mid-week of March, it was whispered that if somebody threw a scholarship his way that he would consider it but still value his commitment to Louisville.

Well, obviously coach Calipari of Kentucky heard the whispers and gave Mr. Kentucky a call.

Preparing for a NBA bombard, Calipari wants to recruit as much young and good talent as he can. Although a scholarship was not offered during this call, a scholarship was not left out the picture.

Coach Calipari said he would offer Justice a scholarship barring a decommitment of Louisville.

Louisville has the upper-hand right now, on the account of a four-year commitment. The only way Justice will decommit is if Kentucky offers him a four-year scholarship—this is probably out of the picture since Kentucky has one-year scholarships.

If the basketball season were to start tomorrow, Justice would be in a Louisville uniform and Pitino’s recruit is saved.

But do not count the possibility of Justice leaving Louisville. Calipari has his recruiting tactics, and no recruit is ever safe when he is recruiting.