-- Forward Rakeem Buckles will transfer from the University of Louisville to join the Florida International University men’s basketball team.
FIU is coached by first year head coach Richard Pitino, a former UofL assistant coach, and FIU assistant coach Mark Lieberman was Buckles’ high school coach and is a former UofL assistant.
“Rakeem is one of my favorites during my tenure at Louisville,” said U of L Coach Rick Pitino. “He’s just a fantastic young man who we wish great success at FIU. We will miss his personality and work ethic, but he is in good hands with Richard.”
Buckles was expected to miss the 2012-13 season while recovering from a second torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of his career. He suffered the injury in his left knee during the Cardinals’ game at Marquette on Jan. 16, had surgery on Feb. 1 and will missed the remainder of season.
The 6-7, 215 pound forward tore the ACL in his right knee on Feb. 27, 2011 in a game against Pittsburgh. He had surgery to repair the knee on March 16, 2011, and saw his first game action in 283 days against IUPUI on Dec. 7. He played an average of 13 minutes in the 11 games in which he participated last season, averaging 4.0 points and 3.8 rebounds. He made his only start of the season against Memphis, totaling 12 points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.
The first knee injury was one setback during a tough sophomore season in which he suffered three separate injuries that kept him off the court, as he also endured a concussion and broken index finger. As a sophomore, he averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in 16 games, including 10 starting assignments. He had ranked among the BIG EAST top ten in rebounding before he broke his finger.
He finished his freshman year scoring a career-high 20 points against California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He added nine rebounds while hitting 10-of-11 field goals in that game.
Buckles will be returning to his hometown in Miami where he earned Class 4A Player of the Year honors in Florida when he averaged 22.8 points, 13.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots as a senior in helping Monsignor Pace post a 24-8 record and the Class 4A regional finals. Monsignor Pace won the state championship in his sophomore and junior seasons with Lieberman as his coach.