Since their first season in 1911, Louisville Cardinals have been one of the most successful basketball programs in college basketball. They have been handled by many finest coaches that helped the team to win multiple titles.
Just like coach Hickman, he led the team to win its first championship on a national level by winning the NAIB Tournament in 1948. Let’s don’t forget about coach John Dromo, who led the Cardinals to a 68-23 record and the 1967 Missouri Valley Conference title. Lastly, coach Denny Crum who led the Cardinals to six final fours in NCAA.
Crum also led the Cardinals to win 2-NCAA championship titles by defeating UCLA (1980) and Duke (1986). Crum was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1994.
Even though the Cardinals won many titles, they are the most humble team. Louisville’s team has been traditionally team-centric than most of the top programs in college basketball history.
Although their 2013 title was vacated due to NCAA sanctions, the Louisville team has won 3 NCAA championships and been in the final four for 11 times.
Historical Louisville Players In The NBA
Wes Unseld (1965-68)
- Career Stats at Louisville: 20.6 PPG, 18.9 RPG
- Career NBA Highlights: 10.8 PPG, 14 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1968-69 NBA Rookie of the Year, 1968-69 NBA MVP, 5-Time All-Star
Unseld was one of the best players Louisville ever had. Before entering college, Unseld led his high school team to two straight Kentucky State Titles during his junior and senior years.
Unseld played center and averaged 35 points and 23.6 rebounds per game during his freshman year. After an amazing freshman year, Unseld excelled more when he entered his sophomore season.
He scored 1,686 points (20.6PPG) and grabbed 1,551 rebounds (18.9RPG) over 82 games. Unseld also earned NCAA All-Time American honors in 1967 and 1968 and he led Louisville into a 60-22 record during his collegiate career.
Unseld was drafted as the second overall pick by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft. As a rookie, Unseld led the Bullets to a 57-25 record and a division title and he averaged 18.2 rebounds per game and he is the 2nd player ever to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same year.
He is also considered one of the best defensive players of his era, and he led the NBA in rebounding in 1975. Unseld took the Bullets to four NBA finals and won a chip in 1978 over the Seattle Supersonics and was named the finals MVP. His number 41 jersey was retired by the Bullets as a respect to him.
Darrell Griffith (1977-80)
- Career Stats at Louisville: 18.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3 APG
- Career NBA Stats: 16.2 PPG, 1980-81 NBA Rookie of the Year
One of the NBA players that has the coolest nickname in basketball history Darrell “Dr. Dunkenstein” Griffith was one of the best players Louisville ever had. He turned down the offer to skip college to start playing for ABA and choose to attend Louisville and became Louisville’s all-time leading scorer.
Griffith starred at Louisville Male High School and he attracted many collegiate basketball scouts all across the country. He decided to play for Louisville and he turned down an offer to forego college and sign with the Kentucky Colonels and this was one of his best decisions he ever made. He led the Cardinals into winning a chip against UCLA and he scored 23 points. Due to his strong performance, Griffith was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
After leaving college as Louisville’s all-time leading scorer, he was drafted by Utah Jazz as the second overall pick in the NBA 1980 draft. During his rookie season, Griffith averaged 20.6 points per game and won NBA Rookie of the Year. Even though he has an amazing performance as a Cardinal, his performance was not as monstrous as he was in Louisville. He played 11 years until his injuries slowed him down.
Pervis Ellison (1985-89)
- Career Stats at Louisville: 15.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 57.7% FG
- Career NBA Stats: 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG
Pervis Ellison was named “Never Nervous Pervis” while he was still playing for Louisville. He was a center for Louisville under coach Denny Crum. Ellison’s freshman year was amazing, he led his team to their second championship and was the second freshman that received the award of Most Outstanding Player.
Ellison was drafted by the Sacramento Kings as their first overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft. Unfortunately, injuries plagued his pro career and his teammate gave him the nickname “Out of service Pervis”.
Even though his rookie year was disappointing because of his injuries, he made a comeback in his third season and he earned the Most Improved Player honors after averaging 20.0 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.68 blocks per game, but never regained his college performance.
Former Louisville Players Currently In The NBA
Montrezl Harrell (2012-15)
- Career Stats at Louisville: 11.6 PPG, 7 RPG
- Career NBA Stats: 12.7 PPG, 5 RPG
Before Louisville used Harrell’s skills in basketball, Harrell played for Hargrave Military Academy as a high school baller. He led his high school team to a 38-1 record while averaging 25.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.
As a freshman in Louisville, Harrell was a backed-up power forward averaging 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per game. In his reserve role, Harrell helped Louisville to earn their third championship last 2013.
Harrell was selected by the Houston Rockets as their 32nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. After playing for the Rockets, Harrell was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers way back 2017. He scored a career-high 30 points off the bench in a win against Houston Rockets.
Harrell used his limited minutes wisely and he was valuable because of his awesome defense and rebounding skills. After moving to Clippers, his game excelled because of the help of coach Doc Rivers.
Terry Rozier (2013-15)
- Career Stats at Louisville: 12 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.5 APG
- Career NBA Stats: 9.5 PPG
Terry Rozier only played for Louisville for only two years. He excelled in his sophomore year averaging 17.1 points per game and was named second-team All-ACC.
Together with Harrell, Rozier left Louisville to start his NBA career and was drafted by the Boston Celtics as the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. During his rookie season, fans and analysts compared Rozier to Lillard.
His pro career has been similar to his college career. He struggled first before taking a leadership role in his third season. He backed up Kyrie and Isaiah Thomas before he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets. Rozier is now part of the Hornets and he is averaging 18 points and 2.7 assists per game.
Donovan Mitchell (2015-17)
- Career Stats at Louisville: 11.7 PPG, 4 RPG
- Career NBA Stats: 22.7 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG
As a freshman at the University of Louisville, Mitchell seems to step up a little bit slowly averaging 7.4 points, 1.7 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game. But Mitchell improved during his sophomore year averaging 15.6 points, 2.7 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor. He was named to the first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference. Like Rozier, Mitchell only played for Louisville for two years and declared for the 2017 NBA draft.
Mitchell was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft and traded to the Utah Jazz. On December 1, 2017, Mitchell scored his career-high 41 points against the Pelicans. He set the Jazz scoring record for a rookie and became the NBA rookie to score 40 points in a game since Blake Griffin in 2011.
Donovan Mitchell is in his third season and he is the team leader of a very good Jazz team with aspirations of winning an NBA title soon. He stands out in his rookie year and as far as I can see, this guy has a lot of potential of winning a chip soon.
All Former Louisville Players In The NBA
Louisville is a successful collegiate basketball team. They are one of the suppliers of the NBA in terms of good quality players. When you take a look at the history of the Louisville basketball team, you may see their consistency in producing young talents.
Even though their former players and alumni are not on the peak of success yet like Duke or UCLA, Louisville is still proud of what they have produced.