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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Imani Lester -- Full Fall Capacity -- Quentin Hillsman -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

 As we've seen in the summer months so far, some days are "no news" days and others end up being bulging at the seams with stories and things to write about. We had three pretty big stories "break" yesterday in the world of women's athletics, so... we'll catch you up on those in today's CARDINAL COUPLE. 


The University of Louisville women's basketball squad landed a pretty big (literally and figuratively)  commitment yesterday morning when 6'3" Imani Lester said on Twitter that she was going to attend Louisville and be a part of the 2022 incoming class. .  

The 6'3" senior-to-be from Charlotte, NC is ranked as one of top prospects in the class and attend North Raleigh Christian Academy. She also plays "club" ball for the Carolina Flames. She was highly sought after by over a dozen schools, including ACC members UNC, Duke, Clemson, FSU, NC State and Wake Forest -- plus other major powers UConn, Mississippi St., Florida and East Carolina. 

She visited the Louisville campus last week and it sounds like she liked what she saw. Her announcement makes her the third student-athlete to verbal to the Cards for 2022, along with Alexia Mobley and Nyla Harris.


Imani plays primarily post but has played guard as well in her high school career, joining the varsity at North Raleigh in the seventh grade. 

" I thank my family and friends for their love and support in my journey. I thank all the coaches who recruited me and I truly appreciate the time and interest you invested in me over the past four years. I thank all the coaches I've gotten the chance to play for and Thank You for helping me grow into the person I am today, and your continuous support along the way. With that being said, I have committed to continue my athletic and academic career at the University of Louisville. L's Up Baby !" 

Her Dad and Coach, Avie Lester, played for Jim Valvano at N.C. State from 1986-89. 

Welcome to the Ville, Imani, from all off us at CARDINAL COUPLE.!!  


The University of Louisville announced yesterday that all fall sports would be open for 100% capacity. 

Here's Vince Tyra's thoughts on the news: 

"It'll be incredible to see our teams competing in front of live, full, loud home crowds here in The Ville". 

And, we can't argue that.  This also includes WBB and Volleyball, who kind of border on the Fall/Winter/Spring season, but it's an announcement that will not only be great for the fans but for the players as well. Many student-athletes came to Louisville to experience the large, supportive, enthused crowds that Cardinal Athletic events draw. 

I've missed the roar and atmosphere of a packed KFC YUM! Center as well, so I'm excited as well. 

The announcement comes after California announced yesterday that they are re-instating the mask mandate for indoor events for everyone -- regardless of vaccine status -- because of the Delta variant of COVID. 

Let's hope that the move to fully re-open is still with us as we roll into fall athletics. It'll be good to see crowds again at Louisville Women's Soccer and Field Hockey events -- and these are both FREE events (no tickets needed) for Cardinal Fans. Hopefully, that'll continue (for attendance capacities) when athletics move indoors. I'm pretty sure this town would go ballistic if WBB and Volleyball ever became "free". 


We also got the news yesterday that Syracuse head women's basketball coach Quentin Hillsman has been accused of bullying and inappropriate behavior by former members of the team. This maybe helps explain why 11 student-athletes transfer from the 2020--21 squad and he has had 20 transfers over the last three years. 

"Q" told the media back in April that "We're fine" when he was asked about the high number of  student-athletes leaving.. 

No, "Q" are not fine. 

Quentin Hillsman's erratic and often inappropriate behavior -- which allegedly includes verbal abuse, bullying and unwanted touching and kissing has been mentioned in conversations with nine former players and almost 20 other sources. 

Telling players in the locker room that you "don't give a f&%$" about them -- and with-holding water after strenuous practices isn't exactly the way to win hearts and minds or bolster confidence and trust. 

Players have also mentioned that they experienced thoughts of self-harm or suicide while playing for Hillsman and several have gone for therapy due to their experience in the program. Some players indicate that they tried to alert the school and the Athletic Director several times about the problems Hillsman was causing but they were constantly ignored. 

This is saddening, infuriating and unacceptable -- if the allegations are true,

Syracuse has hired an outside firm to investigate the numerous claims .

"Based on the nature of these allegations, Syracuse University is engaging an outside firm to conduct an independent review and will take appropriate action based on its outcome." said Sarah Scalese, the University's senior associate vice president for communications. "While no formal complaints have been madde to date from member of the women's basketball program, we take these allegations very seriously. We ask any individuals who have knowledge of or have experienced this kind of conduct to come forward."  

Yes...we've had fun talking about "Q" crazy sideline antics, snappy dressing and his resemblance to CeeLo Green over the years here at CARDINAL COUPLE. This is an entirely new side of Hillsman that we never saw, did not know about and -- quite frankly -- is disgusting and tawdry side of the man and raises our indignation level . 

There will, no doubt, be much more to come in this saga of alleged abuse. I hope we have the stomach for it. Right now, it sounds like "the Q" is in need of some pretty significant psychological/psychiatric assistance and counseling and needs to be removed from his duties if the findings coincide with the allegations.  I hope he gets the help he appears to need, if these things are verified and true. 

This is a whole different side of the coach I've had some good conversations with over the years, and it saddens and disturbs me.  We wondered if we'd ever get the "real" story on why so many were leaving Syracuse WBB. Now, it looks like we may have it, but, it isn't something I want.  



  1. Excited about Imani! Excellent on full attendance. And Q, if all this is true, should be fired and have a lifetime ban imposed on him.

    Nick O.

  2. Let's hope Lester can develop into being one of the excellent front liners we've been fortunate to have at UofL.

    I find it interesting that Tiana M. and Alexis Peterson are coming out in support of Hillsman. Could all this just be revenge thing by players not getting the court time they wanted? Innocent until proven guilty, right?

    Curtis "Be Kind" Franklin

  3. Walz has been going "tall" with these last two classes. You think he learned something from Stanford? I am going to watch the Hillsman allegations with interest. He always seemed all flash and no fundamentals to me, but he got some fine players out of that.

    Blue Lou

  4. Hello Friends!
    Arthur Here !

    I was hoping Clemson WBB would end up with Lester, I've been following her as a player for a couple of years. I think you are going to like her a lot.

    I k ow that a lot of coaches can get rough and unrelenting in their player development. That gal down at Texas Tech sure wasn't doing it the right way either.

    But, even if it is just one player that was mistreated, that is one too many.

    Let the due process of investigation run its course and then take the right action.

    Your friend
    #1 Clemson Fan
    Greer, SC

  5. sounds like the loulax deal with young a few years ago with syracuse

  6. I'm old enough to remember Lester playing with NC State 😂
    That's a HUGE get, in my book, getting a top rated player out of North Carolina.
    Saw a clip yesterday, seems like an excellent passer out of the post.
    Reminded me of Padgett somewhat.
    As for Q, when damn near the WHOLE team transfers out, you can assume probably correctly that the locker room was TOXIC, I just think he himself was the problem.
    You gotta understand these young ladies, you gotta be able to distinguish how to treat them specifically to who they are.
    Not everyone wants to be kissed, or told they ain't s_it, and withholding water is just plain cruel.
    I personally sweat so much I would have bucked him and drank anyway, if I got put off the team...oh well.
    I'm outside right now sweat pouring off my face like I have been doing something besides sitting in shade.
    Humidity does that to me.

  7. Also, I am gonna go ahead and post my thoughts about the wbb program today.
    I believe Malea ended up at Eastern or Morehead, somewhere closer to home, anyway.
    I was sad to see Balogin leave, bit I think Engstler is more than an adequate replacement, I've always liked her game, she's gonna be a solid player here.
    And, just like I said last year, I think our strength is in numbers.
    We have deep talent, I'd love to see us use it more.
    Ahlana and Norika could be starters, imo, and we can actually use Olivia AND Liz in the game together more this year, Ramani showed improvement and we now have Engstler. Russell can give some good minutes, too.
    Any of the freshmen rise to the challenge, and I think at least two will, and we're a top 5 team, again.


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