After a few down years on the recruiting trail -- which were timed, and perhaps not coincidentally, with the rise of John Calipari's recruiting dominance down the road -- Louisville has made big-time strides in landing and keeping elite talent of late. Sure, the Cardinals' 2011 class isn't as good as Kentucky's. Few classes could be. But Pitino's 2011 class is a top 10-level haul, and it should help the Cardinals restock with the sort of talent that has typically characterized Pitino's tenure at the school.
What about 2012? Louisville was off to a solid start in 2012 in at least one regard: It had notched a commitment from the No. 10-ranked player in the class -- and the No. 1-ranked shooting guard -- in North Carolina native Rodney Purvis. Alas, Purvis is no longer a sure thing. In fact, he might be gone for good. According to ESPN.com's Dave Telep, Purvis has decided to rescind his commitment and reopen his recruitment.
Why the sudden change? As Purvis admitted, the departure of Louisville assistant (and fellow North Carolina native) Tim Fuller, who took a position under Frank Haith at Missouri, had a major effect:
"It was hard losing [assistant coach] Tim Fuller and then having to focus," Purvis said. "I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that I would open up my recruitment." [...]
"I had the conversation with Coach Pitino. He's going to keep developing a relationship," Purvis said. "I never said I wasn't going back to Louisville. I just want to develop a relationship with the new coaches."
The biggest question for Purvis now is where the talented youngster will eventually end up, and that question presents a somewhat daunting challenge for Pitino and his staff. It's rare to see a recruit decommit and end up at the school he originally committed to in the first place. Usually, a decommitment means a player is gone. (Not always, but usually.)
Worse yet, if the Cardinals expect to keep Purvis, they'll have to fight off not only Missouri -- where Fuller will no doubt be trying his best to get Purvis to follow him to Columbia, Mo. -- but also the ever-looming threat of homestate schools Duke and North Carolina scooping him up in the interim.
So, yeah, tough break for the Cardinals. But the good news is that 2012 is still awfully far away, even if "next year's recruiting class" is never as far away as many coaches would like.