I talked to Lamar during the draft so it was pretty cool to have that happen. —Donovan Mitchell, on Lamar Jackson being taken in the NFL draft
SALT LAKE CITY — During the summer of 2015, Donovan Mitchell and Lamar Jackson both arrived on the University of Louisville campus as true freshmen.
Three years later, Mitchell has emerged as one the most dynamic young scorers in the NBA as Jackson enters the NFL as one of the most exciting young quarterbacks.
On Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens shocked everyone by trading back into the first round to draft Jackson — the former Heisman Trophy winner — with the 32nd overall pick.
Mitchell, a rookie for the Utah Jazz, was more than 1,200 miles away from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, watching the draft in Salt Lake City.
Even while preparing for Game 6 of the Jazz’s playoff matchup against the OKC Thunder, Mitchell quickly congratulated his former schoolmate.
“I was excited. I was so happy,” Mitchell said. “Him and Jaire (Alexander) getting picked that was pretty special. I talked to Lamar during the draft so it was pretty cool to have that happen.”
Mitchell and Jackson grew close on the University of Louisville campus as stars on the gridiron and hardwood. They have continued to chat throughout Mitchell’s rookie season and Jackson’s predraft process.
The dual-threat signal caller has drawn comparisons to former NFL star Michael Vick with his playmaking ability and Mitchell is a huge fan. Mitchell even supplied his buddy with one of the popular Adidas ‘Rookie’ hoodies, which is a jab at Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ben Simmons — under one condition.
“I need a jersey within the next few weeks,” Mitchell said, smiling.
FOOTBALL DAD: Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone and his family are preparing for a special moment as his son K.J. Malone is expecting to hear his name get called in the 2018 NFL Draft.
K.J. is projected to fall anywhere between the fourth and seventh rounds and the Malones are hosting a watch party in Louisiana on Saturday to see how things play out. K.J. played spent his college career at Louisiana State University where he made a name for himself as a left tackle at 6-foot-4, weighing 321 pounds.
“I’m kind of nervous but who knows. The Jazz never talked to me,” Karl Malone recalled. “It’s always the team that never talk to you and a lot of teams talked to him but we’ll just see.
“We’re proud that he stayed the course and gave it all until he graduated from college, which his dad didn’t’ do, so whatever happens, happens and he’s done that himself,” he added.