BOZICH | Louisville's Mitchell, Indiana's Bryant Shine in Derby - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville's Mitchell, Indiana's Bryant Shine in Derby Classic

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Louisville recruit Donovan Mitchell was congratulated by Mangok Mathiang after the Derby Classic. Louisville recruit Donovan Mitchell was congratulated by Mangok Mathiang after the Derby Classic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Making projections after watching a high school basketball all-star game is as dangerous as projecting the Masters' winner after watching guys hit nine-irons on the driving range.

Nobody plays defense.


For a night, let's live dangerously.

Five thoughts on the Derby Festival Classic. The game was won by the Purple squad (featuring three Indiana recruits), which beat the White squad (featuring four Louisville recruits), 127-119, at Freedom Hall Saturday night:

1. Remember the Name – Louisville edition: Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell is a 6-foot-3 guard. He wears size-17 sneakers, a sign he could be taller than 6-3 when his Louisville career concludes.

Mitchell is a confident, explosive athlete who played like the freshman most likely to contribute quickly on Rick Pitino's 2016 team. He's a charismatic kid. Mitchell wore an old-school Louisville T-shirt during pre-game introductions and then inspired roars from the crowd of 5,150 by winning the Slam Dunk Contest.

Look beyond the 21 points that Mitchell scored on 19 shots while earning the MVP award for the White team. Mitchell has active hands, excellent footwork and a gliding stride. He did not shoot the ball well from distance (1 for 6), but Mitchell will excel in transition until his stroke becomes more consistent. He knows his shot needs fine-tuning.

“Honestly, I don't think I'll be outside the gym at all (this summer),” Mitchell said. “I'll be inside the gym lifting. I haven't really lifted much in my life. I'll get in a serious weight-lifting program and get my body right for the ACC.”

Has U of L coach Rick Pitino outlined a plan for Mitchell?

“He envisions me coming out and creating for my teammates, kind of being a leader that's a young leader,” Mitchell said.

2. Remember the Name – Indiana edition: Thomas Bryant.

Three of Bryant's future teammates at Indiana drove from Bloomington to watch the game. IU guard Robert Johnson said that Bryant performed like a guy who can close the gap that Indiana had around the basket last season.

Bryant won the MVP for the Purple team with 19 points while making a trio of three-point shots. Not bad for a guy who measures 6-10. Bryant is strong but not stiff. He's comfortable playing on the perimeter but not obsessed with the idea. He plays with energy and an edge. Contact doesn't bother him.

He appeared to be a guy who can rebound and block shots, two qualities that Tom Crean needs at IU next season.

Somebody asked Bryant what he expects to bring the Hoosiers?

“The same as always,” Bryant said. “Somebody who is going to bring that intensity and passion. Somebody who can score with their back to the basket and can also pop that three, too, but not be too selfish.”

Bryant is a Top 25 recruit, a McDonald's all-American who had multiple offers. Why Indiana?

“What put them over the top was the need and want for me,” Bryant said. “What they did for Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh, you can't look past that.”

Did Bryant sense that Indiana needed him more than other schools needed him?

“I sensed it a lot with the coaching staff and even with the players,” he said. “With the fans, too. I sensed that real urge and real need.”

3. Remember the Names – Five best players on the court:

This is the five I liked: 1. Diamond Stone, a center bound for Maryland; 2. Mitchell; 3. Bryant; 4. Justin Simon, guard bound for UConn and 5. Dedric Lawson, a wing headed to Memphis.

Stone is a smooth and polished big man who will become an immediate force in the pick-and-roll with Melo Trimble at Maryland.

Simon stuffs the staff sheet. In a game of dunkers and three-point shooters, Simon was easily best passer on the court.

Lawson looked like a triple threat, a guy who can shoot, drive or post. And after missing the NCAA Tournament this season, Memphis needs that.

4. Works in Progress – Louisville and Indiana edition:

U of L recruit Deng Adel delivered excellent numbers (20 points and 9 rebounds). He plays with energy and determination. Ball-handling will be an off-season focus. His shot would benefit from a softer touch, but Deng will be in the mix at small forward for Rick Pitino.

Trinity product Ray Spalding contributed six points and six boards. It's difficult for big men to excel in all-star games without the basketball.

Ryan McMahon, the Cards' 6-1 recruit from Florida, said he was disappointed in his off-shooting night. He missed seven of eight shots, failing to score until the fourth quarter. McMahon did not play to his strengths early by trying to score in the lane. Getting to the rim won't be his game at U of L.

“I wish I had shot the ball a little bit better, during the game,” McMahon said. “I was a little nervous because there were a lot of Cards' fans in the building. I just wanted to do well … Other than my shooting, I thought I played all right.”

There are some gaps in McMahon's game – and he knows that. The largest gap is on the defense end.

“Continuing to get stronger, bigger and faster because I'm going to be guarding some of the quickest and strongest guards in the nation on a daily basis,” McMahon said.

Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby, IU's two other recruits, had solid numbers. Each scored a dozen points with Morgan grabbing six rebounds, Anunoby four. Morgan looked more comfortable on the block. He gets up quickly, especially on multiple rebound attempts. Anunoby has the look of a small forward. But his shoulders are broad enough that he won't be swallowed at the rim by Big Ten centers.

5. Still no Wildcats – Kentucky recruits have been mostly absent from the game since John Calipari became the UK coach six years ago. They've regularly had other commitments.

Game organizers told me they were persistent in recruiting UK recruit Charles Matthews, who was free to here play this weekend. But Matthews, a guard from Chicago, was hesitant to commit to the game and eventually Matthews' invitation was given to another player.

That's unfortunate. Even without any UK representation, I saw several fans wearing UK gear at Freedom Hall. My guess is they'd enjoy seeing at least one future Wildcat every April.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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