After the worst basketball season in program history mercifully came to an end, Louisville head coach Kenny Payne has gone to work reshaping the Cardinals for both the immediate and near future.
So far, the results are impressive.
The latest in a string of recent recruiting wins for Payne and U of L came Friday evening, when five-star small forward Trentyn Flowers committed to the Cardinals.
Flowers will also be reclassifying from the 2024 to the 2023 recruiting class, which means he will be an incoming freshman for the Cardinals next season.
Flowers, who also held a Kentucky scholarship offer, selected Louisville during a live-streamed announcement on YouTube with 247Sports.
“It’s about basketball, but at the end of the day it’s about being an even better person and those are principles that me and my family stand on,” Flowers said during the announcement about why he picked Louisville. “Everything we do is together and we’re a family. That’s how they run it there and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Flowers picked Louisville over five other schools that were finalists in his recruitment: Alabama, Arkansas, Creighton, Kansas and North Carolina.
Flowers has played his high school basketball at at Combine Academy in North Carolina.
Prior to his reclassification, Flowers was ranked as the No. 20 overall player in the class of 2024 by the 247Sports Composite and the No. 7 small forward in the class.
“Combine did a phenomenal job helping me with my classes. Just talking it over with my family… We thought it would be best if I reclassified,” Flowers said. “We felt that I was completely ready and also the coaching staff (at Louisville) did too.”
Payne and the Louisville coaching staff had clearly made Flowers a priority target in the months leading up to his commitment.
Flowers took an official visit to Louisville last year, and took another unofficial visit to Louisville in February while he was in the commonwealth for a showcase game against Camden (N.J.) High School that was played in Frankfort.
Payne and Louisville assistant coach Nolan Smith sat courtside in February to watch Flowers play against Camden on the campus of Kentucky State University.
Following Louisville’s final game of the 2022-23 season, Payne defended the performance of both himself and other coaches on the team, and seemed to brush aside the potential for coaching staff changes.
“I can tell you I have one of the best staffs in college basketball. I can tell you that they’re unique individuals that have had so much success in this game,” Payne said after Louisville’s ACC Tournament loss to Boston College. “What is there to evaluate? I asked them to love the young men. That’s why I hired them. To adopt their dreams, that’s why I hired them. Nothing else. They did their jobs. They did a great job. I love my staff.”
Kentucky is still without a college commitment in the 2024 class.
Four players in or formerly in the 2024 class with a UK scholarship offer — Tahaad Pettiford (Auburn), Ian Jackson (North Carolina), Airious Bailey (Rutgers) and Flowers (Louisville) — have all committed to other schools.
Louisville set for complete roster reset
We’re still just days removed from the end of the 2022-23 Louisville men’s basketball season. But the Cardinals’ roster outlook is totally different now compared to only a week ago.
Five Louisville players from last season’s team — Fabio Basili, Sydney Curry, Kamari Lands, Devin Ree and Roosevelt Wheeler — intend to transfer out of the U of L program.
In the wake of these departures, several big-name players have joined or been linked to the Cardinals in recent days.
Four-star class of 2023 center Dennis Evans committed to Louisville after previously signing with Minnesota.
Former five-star guard and UK commit Skyy Clark is also joining Louisville after choosing to transfer from Illinois.
Five-star class of 2024 small forward Carter Bryant recently announced he is only considering two schools: Arizona and Louisville. Bryant is ranked as the No. 11 player in the 247Sports Composite in the class of 2024.
Louisville had only two seniors — El Ellis and Curry — who went through Senior Day ceremonies.
In addition to Clark, Evans and now Flowers, small forwards Kaleb Glenn and Curtis Williams Jr. will join the U of L program as incoming freshmen.
“You’re getting a winner, someone that’s going to go hard and compete every day,” Flowers said when asked what he will bring to the Cardinals. “I’m just going to put forth my best effort every day.”
Louisville is also bringing in Koron Davis next season. Davis was a standout combo guard at the junior college level in Los Angeles.
Three-star point guard TJ Robinson in committed to Louisville in the class of 2024.
What does this mean for Louisville next season?
The comings and goings of the transfer portal, and the recruiting world, mean that Louisville’s roster for the 2023-24 season isn’t close to being set yet.
That said, there will be a lot of new faces in the Derby City next season to try and engineer what would be a seismic turnaround.
Louisville went 4-28 overall and 2-19 last season in games against ACC opponents. The Cardinals failed to win a game away from the KFC Yum! Center last season, which was Payne’s first as head coach.
The Cardinals last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2017.
This story was originally published March 17, 2023, 5:44 PM.