Louisville could bring back 4 starters from 2013 title team

USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Siva's the only starter guaranteed to be gone next year.

The Louisville Cardinals won the 2013 national championship Monday night, so naturally, it's time to look forward to what they have returning for next season. Louisville's outlook for the 2013-14 season seems strong but has one large hole already apparent.

Peyton Siva has been the Cardinals' point guard for four seasons, and he ended his career with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in the title game Monday. In losing Siva, the Cardinals lose 39.4 percent of their team assists from the title team as well as 20.4 percent of the team steals on a squad that won its title on the merits of its pressure defense.

But coach Rick Pitino will have to replace him, and he's bringing in two options: incoming freshman Terry Rozier, who is the No. 17 player in the nation according to 247sports.com, and Chris Jones, the No. 1 junior college prospect in the class. Jones had offers from the Kansas Jayhawks, Baylor Bears, Florida State Seminoles and Oklahoma State Cowboys. Jones was No. 67 in the country as a high school senior and originally signed to play for the Tennessee Volunteers.

He asked for a release from his letter of intent when coach Bruce Pearl was fired, and he followed former Tennessee assistant Steve Forbes to Northwest Florida State College. Jones played two seasons at Northwest Florida.

Siva and reserve power forward Stephan Van Treese were the only seniors on Louisville's championship squad, so the rest of the returning lot will depend on looming decisions with regard to the NBA draft. The two players who would most likely consider heading for the draft are Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith. DraftExpress.com currently projects Dieng as the No. 20 overall pick in June's draft and Smith leaking into the second round, going No. 34 overall. Both were juniors in 2013.

Chane Behanan, a sophomore starter, is not projected to be selected in DraftExpress.com's mock draft.

Louisville's most important reserve during the title run was Luke Hancock. He won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award with 42 points in the two Final Four games, stepping up in Kevin Ware's absence and providing clutch shooting, smart decision-making and strong defense. Hancock, who played his first season at Louisville in 2012-13 after transferring from George Mason, will be a senior next season.

Ware is expected to be recovered from his leg injury in more than enough time to play a full season in 2013-14.

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