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June 22, 2012

What does Buckles' move mean for Louisville?

Junior power forward Rakeem Buckles announced his decision to transfer to FIU for his final season of eligibility Thursday.

Buckles tore the ACL in his right knee on Feb. 27, 2011 in a game against Pittsburgh. The 6-7 forward had surgery to repair his knee on March 16, 2011, and rehabbed for 283 days until Dec. 7.

He only played 11 games before getting injured again with another knee injury. Buckles was expected to rehab throughout the next season and have one final season to play in 2013-14.

So how will Buckles making a move mean to Louisville? There are two parts to the answer.

THIS SEASON
On the court, Louisville won't miss much from Buckles move because he would be rehabbing his knee anyway. Plus, Louisville's starter, Chane Behanan, returns at power forward and newly signed freshman Montrezl Harrell figures to be his backup.

But Buckles' presence at Louisville likely would have helped on the court. His experience and understanding of Rick Pitino's offense and defense would come in handy as he could advise Behanan and Harrell.

Pitino said, "We will miss his personality and work ethic, but he is in good hands with (FIU coach and Rick's son) Richard (Pitino)."

THE FUTURE
Without Buckles, Louisville will need another power forward in the 2013 class. Behanan is likely to turn professional at the end of the 2012 season, and Stephan Van Treese and Jared Swopshire transferred out.

That means Harrell and Angel Nunez will be the only power forwards on campus the following year unless the Cardinals sign another power forward in this year's class.

WHY THE MOVE?
From UofL sources, it is clear that the move was Buckles' decision. In fact, weeks after the season, coach Rick Pitino was asked if Buckles may be headed to FIU with Richard and he replied with a definitive no. It was the elder Pitino's intention to keep Buckles in campus through his rehab.

A Miami native, Buckles' is moving back home at FIU and he'll go play his senior season in his hometown for his high school coach, FIU assistant coach Mark Lieberman, coaching him.

He was Florida Class 4A Player of the Year as a senior at Monsignor Pace High. Monsignor Pace won the state championship in his sophomore and junior seasons with Lieberman as his coach.


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