Rick Pitino Gives a UofL Basketball Roster Breakdown

Photo: Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
Photo: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

On Wednesday afternoon, Rick Pitino spoke to the Courier-Journal and gave a full roster breakdown for his team this upcoming season. Jeff Greer has the full article here of course, but I will just post a few of the ones that stuck out to me and that may interest you.

* Donovan Mitchell: The highly rated freshman guard is ready to play right away, Pitino said, reiterating what he’s said since Mitchell signed with Louisville. He showed up at U of L with a good attitude and a body that is ready to go. Mitchell and Johnson were the first players Pitino mentioned, unprompted, as guys who are doing well this offseason, and Mitchell is a big reason why Pitino said U of L has “a very, very good freshman class.”

* Ray Spalding: “We’ve not seen a guy at 6-9 1/2 get up and down the floor like him in some time,” Pitino said. “He has great, great upside. He reminds me of Earl Clark, but he’s even more graceful. That’s a high compliment, because Earl was a graceful player.” The challenge with Spalding, a freshman who just graduated from Trinity High here in Louisville, is getting him to become more vocal on the floor. Pitino compared him to a young Larry O’Bannon in terms of demeanor as a freshman.

“He’s a terrific young man, but introverted and shy off the court,” Pitino said. How can they prod a more aggressive, vocal demeanor out of him on the court? “You get him to talk on every possession, like we did with Quentin (Snider),” Pitino said. “You get him to talk through every drill.”

* Graduate transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis “are ready to go right now. They are ready to play,” Pitino said. He emphasized again the importance of the Puerto Rico trip, especially for the two grad transfers. “Those guys are being put into an entirely new system at the end of their college careers,” he said.

Lee, a 6-6 transfer from Drexel, is in town this week but isn’t allowed to work out with the team or coaches. He can shoot and play on his own while he’s here. “He’s exactly what we need,” Pitino said of Lee. “He’ll play both (wing) positions. The 2 and 3 in our system only matter on defense, and he can play both.”

* Deng Adel: He’s another versatile player who can play multiple positions, and that especially helps on defense, where the 6-8 Adel thrives. “He is probably the best defensive player on the team,” Pitino said. “For a freshman to be a team’s most outstanding defensive player, that’s a huge compliment to him, but I mean it. He is one of the five best freshman defenders I’ve had.” Asked to expand on what specifically makes Adel so good defensively, Pitino said the Sudanese-born Adel is “quick laterally, active with his hands, long, athletic and knows his terminology and is a quick learner.”

Adel’s offense is a work in progress, but, like Pitino said, he is a quick learner who is making progress in the month or so he’s been on campus. “He’s a little mechanical right now, but he’ll get there,” Pitino said.

Obviously, I focused on the main guys there, but the full article is definitely worth checking out. Pitino has really good things to say about Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku too.

Also, Anas Mahmoud came to UofL at 187 pounds and is now at 215. And freshman Ryan McMahon will “definitely” redshirt this upcoming season to add muscle to his frame.

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