Author: Phillip Steinmetz
Rick Pitino has coached some pretty spectacular players during his time at the University of Louisville. Those players have been groomed and developed into Cardinal legends that were apart of some historic teams, including two Final Four teams and a few runs to the NCAA Elite Eight. Out of all of his great players, below are the five greatest to wear “Louisville” across his chest during Pitino’s coaching tenure.
Reece Gaines was an excellent player at Louisville. He was the starting shooting guard during his four-year career and is one of the best perimeter shooters to ever play at the school. Gaines averaged 15.6 points, 3.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game throughout his legendary playing career. In fact, his game broke a lot of records and he ranks among the top five Louisville leaders in made three-point shots (225), free throws (456), and assists (475).
Reece had a phenomenal senior season and was in contention all year long for the John Wooden Player of the Year award. He finished the season as a 3rd team All-American! That season he played against current NBA player Dwayne Wade when he was at Marquette. For an idea of how great Reece really was, Wade called him the greatest player that he played against during college. From there, Gaines became the 15th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and was selected by the Orlando Magic. He did not enjoy great success in the NBA but he did continue his career overseas. Reece Gaines is now the assistant coach for the Bellermine Knights Division II men’s college basketball team.
Terrence Williams was the Cardinal on the 2009 team that advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. He was a freakish athlete who was known for his breathtaking dunks and aggressive drives through the lane. “T-Will” introduced himself to the Louisville faithful with a 30-point dunk fest in the Derby City Classic and ended his career by leading the program to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.
During his senior year, Williams averaged 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He was truly an all-around talent on the court. Terrence was drafted in the NBA by the New Jersey Nets and led an up-and-down professional career. He now plays professional basketball in China.
Fransisco Garcia is one of the most memorable Louisville players in history and is also one of the few Cards currently playing in the NBA. He had a marvelous 3 year career at Louisville and led his team to the 2005 NCAA Final Four. During “Cisco’s” career he averaged 14.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals and displayed an elite all-around game. He is third among three-year players at Louisville in scoring with 1,435 career points.
Garcia was a player who was not afraid to shoot the ball and would shoot it in your face if he had too. He also displayed advanced ball-handling skills for a shooting guard and was a great leader on the court. Francisco is fondly remember as one of the deadliest shooters in school history.
Taquan Dean was an amazing talent at Louisville. He is statistically the most prolific three-point shooter in Cardinal history and is the all-time leader in made three-point field goals. Dean was so good that by his junior year he was only 69 shots away from the record! His 122 made three-pointers in a season are the most in the program’s storied history. Taquan also racked up 304 assists and 536 rebounds in his career.
Dean was a member of the memorable 2005 Final Four team and formed a three-headed monster with Garcia and Larry O’Bannon that year. All three players were excellent three-point shooters and Taquan was the best of them all. His career stats were 12.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 40% from behind the arc. Surprisingly, he went undrafted and is now playing overseas for Sidigas.
Earl Clark was the best big man that Rick Pitino has coached at Louisville and a key figure on the 2009 Elite Eight team. He played alongside the great Terrence Williams on those teams and had a great career in the red and black. Clark is remembered for his silky-smooth play and was a force to be reckoned with on the court. His three-year career averages at Lousiville were 10.6 points, 7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 0.9 steals per game .
Clark was drafted in 2009 by the NBA’s Phoenix Suns but never quite panned out. He was then later traded to the Orlando Magic before finding his home in Los Angeles. He joined the Lakers organization and has emerged as a starter this season! New head coach Mike D’Antoni loves Earl’s length, versatility and shooting stroke and starts him over former frontcourt teammate Pau Gasol, who is an Olympic medal winner and two-time NBA champion. Clark is making a name for himself and represents the Louisville program well.