I had a great time covering the three days of the Derby Basketball classic. It was great having the opportunity to watch and cover Ryan McMahon, Deng Adel, Donovan Mitchell, and Ray Spalding. I can tell you from being around these guys for three days that they are all great kids and they all represented themselves and the University of Louisville very well. Watching their interactions with the other players and with the adults you can tell that each of them were raised very well and the phrase yes sir and yes ma’am were commonly spoken between the four. And as far as their play on the basketball court they all are going to be very good and each of them has something to bring to the table.
Ryan McMahon isn’t a 6-7 guard but he sure plays like one. This kid is a very crafty player for his size and when he goes to the basket he means to score or make a play. The word fearless is the word I would use when Ryan gets a basketball in his hands, and he is very confident in his shot. It was awesome watching him break the record in the first round of the three point shooting contest and it just reassured everything that I had originally thought about his game. I can’t wait to watch him make big shots in a Cardinal uniform.
Ray Spalding has a ton of upside and when he adds more muscle to his athletic frame he is going to be big-time. He is a very versatile player who has good hands and can handle the ball well for his size. He is very good in the lane and can even step out and shoot the three. He’s got that very laid back personality like Wayne Blackshear and I do think he is going to be the biggest project out of this group but once Coach Pitino brings him along watch out.
Deng Adel is college game ready and is a fast developing forward. He plays very hard on both ends of the floor and kind of brings that energy that we were used to seeing from Montrezl Harrell. With added strength and some honing of his skills he is going to be a nightmare match-up for opposing teams. He is a player that can lead the break and stop and pop from long or mid-range. And can finish around the rim. He will see the floor next season on the wing.
Donovan Mitchell is one of the most college ready players that coach Pitino has ever recruited. Right now most of his scoring threat is finishing in the lane and around the rim. Once he adds to his skill set and polishes his mid-range game he is going to be a very good player. No doubt in my mind that this kid is going to be an instant fan favorite and he’ll play hero in more than his fair share of games in the future.
These guys were all under-evaluated, and under recruited at times in their high school careers. They are all guys that really came on late in the recruiting process and are all considered diamonds in the rough. Nothing like guys who play with that chip on their shoulder and I think all of these guys think they have a lot to prove not only to themselves but to everyone who ever doubted them along the way. We had a guy like this in Terry Rozier and we know how that worked out. If L1C4 was defined in the dictionary a picture of these guys would be in the footnotes. You are going to love these kids Card Nation…
Below are photos and videos over the last three days of the Derby Basketball Classic:
DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC PRACTICE COVERAGE:
NIGHT OF FUTURE STARS COVERAGE:
DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC COVERAGE:
JAYLEN JOHNSON AND ANAS MAHMOUD INTERVIEW AT DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC: