What Was His Name? Louisville Edition
North Carolina is on to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament to face the Louisville Cardinals. Since this is the Cardinals’ first season in the ACC there is not a lengthy history between Louisville and Carolina. They’ve met a two times recently in the postseason. The Tar Heels won both the 2005 national semifinal and 2008 regional final over the Cardinals. Despite those significant games, very few ex-Cardinals would really make the Carolina supporter’s raise their eyebrows.
Therefore, I’m going a former Kansas player for this edition of “What Was His Name.” In fact, this big man actually decided between Kansas and North Carolina during his recruitment. He choose the Jayhawks because he wanted to play for Roy Williams. This was in 2003. Things quickly changed for both Roy Williams and David Padgett.
David Padgett committed to Kansas hoping to play for Roy Williams. However, Williams returned home to take the head coach position at North Carolina after Padgett signed his letter of intent but before he played his first season. Padgett played just 19 games in Lawrence, averaging 6.5 points per game as a starter.
“I don’t think it’s fair for David Padgett to be stuck out there now, and yet in that national letter of intent that they do have to sign, they put in bold print you are signing with the school, not the coach,” Williams said shortly after taking the North Carolina job. “But that doesn’t make it right. The fact is you do sign with the school, but if they do want to play for a certain coach, I feel there’s nothing I can ever do to repay David Padgett for showing me the faith and then I leave. Guys, that’s hard.”
With quotes like this in hand, rumors started swirling about Padgett’s potential transfer to North Carolina. Many believed he would be the perfect big man complement to the Tar Heel’s big man rotation. Padgett wanted play as a face-up big man but Carolina already had one of those in freshman Marvin Williams with another big man by the name of Tyler Hansbrough scheduled to arrive the same season in which Padgett would be eligible to play. Padgett ended up transferring to Louisville instead.
Padgett developed into a decent player at Louisville, averaging slightly less than 11 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. It wasn’t until his senior season in 2008 that Padgett got to play in front of the coach he longed to play for. Padgett watched Hansbrough score 28 points and grab 13 rebounds as North Carolina cruised by Louisville in the 2008 regional final and into the Final Four. Padgett shot just 1-of-5 but finished the game with 6 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. An overall solid night for an over-discussed and much ballyhooed player among North Carolina circles who turned out to be just that. Solid.
Today, he’ll line up across from Roy Williams for the third time this season as the Director of Basketball Operations for Louisville. Looked like everything worked out well for everybody involved. Solid.