The positive comments of Deng Adel, the latest University of Louisville basketball commit, bear a close resemblance to those first uttered by a previous UofL player when he committed to Rick Pitino.
“Getting an education is the most important thing to me and my family. But basketball gives me the chance to go to college,” Adel told NBC Sports.
A flashback of Gorgui Dieng sitting at a press conference table at the Yum! Practice Center in 2010 comes immediately to mind. Gorgui, of course, went to graduate in three years before taking his considerable talents to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA.
The 6-foot-7 Adel is rated No. 18 overall and the No. 2 small forward in the 2015 class by Scout.com. He is the cousin of Mangok Mathiang, another Sudo-Aussie who played for high school coach Loren Jackson at the IMG Academy in Florida.
He chose UofL over UConn, Florida, Ga. Tech, LSU and others.
Gorgui Dieng is saying goodbye to Louisville, and the community won’t be the same. His basketball skills, positive attitude and wisdom will be missed.
A bittersweet wave of relief was felt by UofL fans when his name was the 21st to be called in the NBA draft. While no one wanted to see Gorgui go, they feel protective of him and are concerned about his future. But he wants to go and fans want most for him to be happy.
He symbolized the humility and hunger of a team that was constantly striving to get better and won for the University of Louisville a third national championship in basketball. Sending him off to the NBA was kinda like throwing him to the wolves.
As it turned out, he would wind up with the wolves, the Timberwolves of Minnesota after first getting picked by the Utah Jazz. He and Shabazz Muhammad would be traded by the Jazz for Trey Burke of Michigan.
UofL fans are going to have to make an effort to keep up with Gorgui, with him moving to an outpost in Minnesota. And they won’t be seeing much of him on TV, having joined a team with a 31-51 won-lost record in the NBA’s Western Conference this past season.
Whether Dieng could have improved his stock by staying another season at UofL will never be known. He and Rick Pitino felt professional basketball was the best move for him, and now was the time to go. Gorgui was a first-round pick so there is some comfort that his future is relatively secure financially.
Going to be tough for UofL fans to let go of him, hoping Gorgui can handle all the challenges coming his way.
The uncertainty on whether Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith will stay or go continues, with Gorgui said to be leaning toward leaving, Russ toward staying. They’ve both gone back and forth, at least in their public utterances.
Adding to the confusion is that they may not know themselves, each in the awkward position of getting a feel for their prospects in the NBA draft, which is scheduled June 27. The NCAA deadline of April 16 came and went without any announcements. If Gorgui or Russ had declared their intentions before that date, they couldn’t change their minds. The only date that matters now is the NBA deadline of April 28.
Kenny Klein, University of Louisville sports information director told the Courier-Journal:
“If you hadn’t sent any paperwork in to declare for the draft, you didn’t have any reason to pull out by April 16 to remain eligible for future NCAA competition. An individual could just do nothing and still have until the NBA deadline of April 28 to make his decision on entering the draft.”
The CJ also reported that Dieng is rated No. 16 by ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford, and Smith is at No. 46.
Russ Smith, who says he is undecided about whether he will enter the NBA draft? His dad who says Russ is gone?
Or Rick Pitino who says it is 50-50 whether Smith will return to play basketball at the University of Louisville next season?
Gorgui Dieng, who doesn’t seem at all to be infatuated by the NBA and its riches, and indicates that he is happy here?
Or Pitino who says that Gorgui will definitely leave?
What we do know is that Russ, even with all his quickness and assortment of shots, would be a small guard in the NBA and that the pros may be reluctant to take because of his unpredictability and decision making skills or lack thereof. That wild cross court pass that went flying out of bounds in the final minutes of the championship game could have cost UofL dearly, confirming that he still wasn’t all that dependable.
We also know that Gorgui, who all but disappeared in a couple of tournament games, has grown and matured more as a basketball player than perhaps any player in UofL history. If the NBA drafts on the basis of potential, there is no more obvious pick than Gorgui Dieng.
Gorgui could make it in the NBA, but he won’t be disappointed if not assured of being drafted. Russ will probably join some fellow teammates overseas if he his name isn’t called.
We suspect that Rick Pitino is preparing himself and fans for the loss of one or both of the players. He has been burned too many times, not wanting to be surprised and disappointed again. The return of one of both of them would be a boost to UofL’s chances of another run next season.