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'23 SG George Washington III Sees Potential Fit With Louisville, Kenny Payne

The guard formerly played high school ball in the city of Louisville, and named the Cardinals in his top five earlier this month.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - George Washington III has been on the Louisville men's basketball program's radar for quite some time now. In fact, he has been a target for not one, but two Cardinals coaching staffs at this point.

The Class of 2023 shooting guard was originally offered a scholarship early in the summer of 2021, while former Cardinals head coach Chris Mack was at the helm. After Washington III committed to Ohio State last November, and Mack and UofL mutually separated this past January, one would think that's where the story ends between Louisville and Washington III.

Kenny Payne had other ideas.

The Dayton (Oh.) Chaminade Julienne backed off of his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes earlier this month, and the first-year head coach of the Cardinals almost immediately reached out to him following his decommitment. While it's been less than a month since that, Washington III's relationship with the new coaching staff at Louisville is only getting stronger.

"I’d say it has progressed really well," Washington III told Louisville Report. "I have a pretty good relationship with him and the staff, and it’s really only been getting better. I think coach KP just brings something to Louisville that not too many universities in the country have."

The bond between Washington III and Louisville is now so strong, that the Cardinals have a serious chance of landing him. Back on Sept. 20, he released a new list of top schools, and Louisville was one of the five to make the cut. Dayton, Virginia, Michigan and Wake Forest were also still in the running.

Payne has been his primary recruiter since Louisville jumped back into the mix, though Washington III has also had plenty of conversations with assistant coach Nolan Smith.

"I’d say a lot of it is just getting to know each other and building a relationship, but we also talk about the vision for me and the program," Washington III said.

When reflecting on said discussions about his potential role within the overall program, Washington III believes that he "definitely can " fit into Payne's anticipated system and scheme that he will run at Louisville. He also believes Payne's track record of developing guards while an assistant coach at Kentucky speaks for itself.

"You can barely count the number of great guards that coach KP has had in his years at Kentucky," He said. "He works his players hard, but he lets them play their game, and I could see myself blending right into that."

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Not to mention that Washington III is already well familiar with the history of the Cardinals, considering he used to play locally. Originally from Austin, Tex., his family moved to Louisville prior to his sophomore year in high school, and he spent two seasons with Christian Academy of Louisville. He transferred to Dayton (Oh.) Chaminade Julienne when his father accepted an assistant coaching position with the Dayton women's basketball program.

"It is a basketball school, and the passion and level of support they give to basketball there is unbelievable, and the coaches just add to that even more," he said.

Should he commit to Louisville, he would be a big get for Payne in his first full cycle with the Cardinals. During his junior year at C.A.L., the 6-foot-2, 165-pound guard put up 23.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Trojans, while also shooting 35.8 percent on three-pointers. According to the 247Sports Composite, he ranks as the No. 9 shooting guard and No. 76 overall prospect in the class.

Washington III currently has an official visit planned for Oct. 8 with Michigan, but that he is "working on a official visit date" with Louisville. The other three schools in his top five will also be getting official visits. He wants to have a decision in place ahead of November's early signing period, which lasts from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16.

"For me, the timetable is just before signing day in November," Washington III said when asked about his timeline for a commitment.

Payne currently boasts two commitments in the 2023 cycle: Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice small forward Curtis Williams Jr. and La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere small forward Kaleb Glenn. Williams committed earlier this month, while Glenn has been in the fold for over an entire calendar year.

(Photo of George Washington III via NBPA)

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