Once we knew that Donovan Mitchell would hire an agent and remain in the NBA Draft, Deng Adel’s decision became very important. Adel worked out for nearly ten NBA teams while going through the draft process, but decided he’d return to UofL for his junior season.
Had Adel decided to head to the NBA, there would still be plenty to like about next season’s team, but I think it’s safe to say expectations would be different.
Mike Decourcey of the Sporting News ranked Adel’s decision to return as the most impactful in college basketball.
1. Deng Adel, F, Louisville – The more players hang around Rick Pitino, the better they seem to get. That’s been true since he first met Billy Donovan at Providence back in 1985, and it has accelerated over the course of this decade at Louisville. Russ Smith, Chinanu Onuaku, Terry Rozier and Preston Knowles are among the players who made major advances in production as veteran players — at least in part because Pitino needed them to do so in order for the Cardinals to excel. Donovan Mitchell did it last year, essentially doubling his scoring and helping UL earn a No. 2 NCAA seed.
This time, it’s got to be the 6-8 Adel. And if Adel delivers in the same way as his predecessors, the Cardinals will contend for an ACC title and a fourth Final Four under Pitino. Don’t bet against it.