BOZICH | NBA scout not ready to "bang the table" for Spalding, A - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | NBA scout not ready to "bang the table" for Spalding, Adel

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Ray Spalding (13) and Deng Adel (center) are trying to earn spots in the NBA Draft. Ray Spalding (13) and Deng Adel (center) are trying to earn spots in the NBA Draft.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I will not call for an investigation if neither Raymond Spalding nor Deng Adel is taken in the NBA Draft next month.

On Monday, Spalding got the call he should have had from Day One — an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine, which will begin Wednesday in Chicago. He was Louisville’s most consistent player, showed an improved perimeter shot and has skills that fit multiple positions.

Adel is still waiting to take the place of somebody who scratches — even though invitations were issued to Kevin Hervey of UT-Arlington, Josh Okogie of Georgia Tech, Kenrich Williams of TCU and others unlikely to make it to the Green Room.

Why have both former Cardinals been looking for love?

“I’m not banging the table in my draft room for either one of those kids,” one veteran scout told me. “You bang the table for guys you really believe in. I believed in (former U of L star) Donovan Mitchell last season.

“Will they make it? Maybe yes. Maybe no. They’re both maybes. It’s up to them to go into a team workout somewhere and prove they’re more than a maybe because they didn’t do that enough last season.”

“They had good years, but I don’t think either of them had great years,” another NBA scout said. “I think teams wanted to see more alpha from both of them.”

Spalding and Adel will need all the alpha they can summon to make it to the NBA next season. Both signed with an agent, Aaron Turner, who represents former U of L players Terry Rozier, Mangok Mathiang and Jaylen Johnson.

There will be no coming back to Second and Main streets. They will have to grind their way into the league, likely investing time in the NBA G-League or overseas.

“I think both of them made a mistake,” said the veteran scout, who watched Spalding and Adel in person more than a dozen times over their three college seasons.

“Why not go back to Louisville for another year, get stronger, improve your skills, get tougher and play your way into the first round? What’s wrong with that?”

The four-year plan is not the preferred game plan today — and I’m fine with it. Every player has earned the opportunity to manage his career. If they’re fine with the G-League or playing overseas, go for it. There is a long list of guys who have done it the hard way.

Spalding and Adel endured plenty during their three seasons at Louisville. It’s their call.

But make no mistake: The odds are not pretty.

I checked the numbers from the 2017 NBA Draft. Of the 60 guys selected, two were American college players who did not earn Combine invitations — former SMU guards Sterling Brown (taken 46th by the Sixers before making his way to the Bucks) and former California guard Jabari Bird, who played in 13 games for the Celtics, the team that drafted him 56th.

That’s one set of numbers: 2 of 60.

Here is another: 19 of 118.

Let me explain: According to the full-season NBA statistics at ESPN.com, 118 rookies played in at least one game. The big statistics were put up by Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith, Josh Jackson and others who were drafted.

But there were 19 guys who played college basketball in 2017 and made it into at least one NBA game without getting drafted.

That is the Tyler Cavanaugh/Luke Kornet subset of players because Cavanaugh (George Washington to Atlanta) and Kornet (Vanderbilt to the Knicks) were the two undrafted rookies to appear in at least 20 NBA games.

“It can be done,” the veteran NBA scout said. “I hope they both prove everybody wrong.

“But at best, they’re both maybes. They’ve got a lot of work to do. A lot.”

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