Despite Louisiana falling short in the Sun Belt Conference Championship and being unable to punch their ticket to the Big Dance, there is still a little Ragin’ Cajuns flare in the NCAA Tournament this month.
Former Cajuns Cedric Russell and Mylik Wilson, who both transferred out of the Louisiana program last offseason, are showcasing their talents under the brightest lights in one of the best tournaments in the world.
Russell, a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes, saw spotty minutes throughout the year for his new squad, but came up clutch in those moments. In their upset victory against No. 1 Duke earlier this season, Russell scored 12 points and hit timely buckets down the stretch to knock off the top-ranked Blue Devils.
Now, the fifth-year senior has his eyes on the prize, getting a chance to play in the biggest stage college basketball has to offer. It’s why he took his talents to a Power Five school like Ohio State. To play in the Big Dance and showcase his game to NBA evaluators everywhere.
“I came here to play in big games like this and this is definitely something that’s off the checklist,” Russell said on Wednesday. “It all gets multiplied when it’s win or go home. So definitely the approach, it’s magnified. But you can’t really get ahead of yourself. At the end of the day, it’s still the same 40-minute game.”
Wilson, who really proved what he is capable of during his time at Louisiana, knew it was time for a bigger opportunity. As the former Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year while in Lafayette, Wilson is simply built for the bright lights.
Entering the transfer portal and taking his flashy playstyle to Texas Tech, it’s been a solid adjustment for Wilson. The Big 12 Conference is one of the most challenging conferences in the country, with last year’s NCAA Champion, Baylor, coming out of there.
Suffering a knee injury during the early stages of his first year with the Red Raiders, Wilson was sidelined for a few games this season, but came back stronger than ever. Giving Texas Tech a boost during their conference tournament and really elevating this group to the standard they’re known for playing, Wilson has given tremendous minutes for his squad.
Now playing in March Madness and winning their first-round game handily over Montana State, Wilson and the Red Raiders shift their focus to continuing to make a significant tournament run this month.
To have two former Ragin’ Cajuns in the NCAA Tournament is a great feat for this Louisiana program, which looks to shake back after a rollercoaster ride of a 2021-22 season and punch a ticket of their own next season.