SALT LAKE CITY — Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell both arrived on the University of Louisville’s campus together as top-100 players for the Class of 2015.
The college teammates would eventually develop an extremely tight bond in their two seasons together for Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, even reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament as sophomores in 2017.
Although Mitchell would declare for the NBA draft after that run, Adel stayed an additional year to average nearly 15 points as the program pushed through recruiting and sex scandal controversy.
Mitchell is now a rising star in the league for the Utah Jazz while Adel is a promising prospect coming up. Adel visited Salt Lake City on Sunday morning with five other prospects for the Jazz’s final pre-draft workout ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft. Mitchell is currently overseas for an Adidas trip, but still offered advice on what to expect in the process.
“He just told me heading into the workout to just compete as hard as I could,” Adel said. “Even starting with the bench press stuff, he said to ‘make sure you max out every weight.’ I know he said the wind's going to hit you, but you’ve just got to fight through it and just compete.”
Adel was joined by Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans, USC’s De’Anthony Melton, overseas wing Dzanan Musa, Lithuania’s Arnoldas Kulboka and Duke’s Gary Trent Jr. Last summer, Adel also worked out in Utah after testing the draft process but ultimately decided to return for his junior season.
Even as the college buddies experienced different paths of life this past year, they remained in contact. Prior to the slam dunk contest, Adel claims Mitchell had already informed him of some of his ideas as they continued to root for each other.
“He had a tremendous year, obviously he was very busy, especially in the All-Star break and then the playoffs, but I talked to Don a lot,” Adel said. “It’s tremendous what he’s doing here and just with his dunking and stuff, he’s always throwing stuff off the wall. I’m pretty sure he’s done it here before, so it didn’t surprise me as much.”
Ray Spalding was another one of Mitchell and Adel’s former Louisville teammates to work out with the Jazz on June 4. Spalding wasn’t hesitant to share his experience with Adel over the weekend either as they recently connected in San Antonio.Comment on this story
Adel is a projected second-round pick. His versatility and ability to play both ends at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-9.5 wingspan makes him intriguing.
Being friends with Mitchell certainly doesn’t hurt either — especially in Utah.
“With him this past year, with the little bit of the unrest at Louisville, changing of coaching staff they played a little bit different,” said Walt Perrin, Utah’s vice president of player personnel. “So we saw probably a little bit different things this year than we saw in the past at Louisville, but he has improved from our workout last year.”