Top basketball recruit likes winning culture at Louisville
A few days after Louisville’s basketball season — the first under new head coach Chris Mack — came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, incoming U of L recruit Samuell Williamson sat courtside after a McDonald’s All-American practice session and talked about his expectations for next year.
“Some people may say it’s a stretch, but I dream big. So, national championship,” Williamson told the Herald-Leader. “I love winning, and I want to end my last game of the season with a win.”
The 6-foot-6 small forward from Texas is one of six incoming recruits for the Cards — “The Super Six,” he called them — and the first McDonald’s All-American for the program under Mack, who has put together one of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes in his first year on the job.
The group also includes Louisville Trinity standout David Johnson (the Sweet Sixteen MVP this season), as well as top-50 national recruit Aidan Igiehon, top-100 prospects Jaelyn Withers and Josh Nickelberry, and three-star power forward Quinn Slazinksi.
According to the 247Sports composite rankings, it’s the best class in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I know a lot of people were surprised,” said Williamson, who had scholarship offers from Kansas, Michigan, Florida and several other top programs. “They did a great job of recruiting and building great relationships with not only myself but the other five guys in the ‘Super Six.’ I’m so excited to play with those guys and the guys that are returning. Just to build relationships and get this winning culture and these championship expectations back.”
Williamson, the No. 39 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings, said Mack started recruiting him while he was still the head coach at Xavier and extended a U of L scholarship offer shortly after taking that job.
The Texas native was drawn to Mack’s approach and the tradition of the Cards’ program. “The fan base — they expect a winning team year in and year out. And they don’t accept anything except winning.”
That’s what Williamson intends to do when he gets to Louisville, and he made a nice showing of himself during McDonald’s All-American Game week in Atlanta, where his performances in the practices — always the most competitive events of the week — landed his name on “standout” lists from 247Sports and Rivals.com.
“He’s a kid that’s trending upward as a prospect,” 247Sports analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “He’s got good size and length for the position. He’s a really good mid-range scorer. Shoots the ball really well from the mid-range area. He’s a good athlete. He continues getting better, and he had a terrific senior season.”
Williamson said he and the other Cardinals recruits have been in a group text message for a while, and they’re looking forward to joining up with the returning U of L players this summer. He referred to Igiehon — a super-athletic, 6-10, 235-pound power forward from Ireland — as a “monster” on the court and noted that he followed Johnson’s state championship run by watching the Sweet Sixteen games online. “I think the future is very bright,” Williamson said.
Year one under Mack saw the Cards earn a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament — exceeding the expectations of many college basketball observers — and the future of the U of L program is looking even brighter, on and off the court.
“I think this is just the start for them,” Daniels said. “And depending on who comes back and who goes, they could be really good next year. ... I think there were a lot of people waiting around to see how they would perform. There’s no better way to recruit than to have on-court success, and I’m sure that’ll help them with other players.”