By Rick Bozich
 
WDRB Sports
 
 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — David Padgett’s run as the University of Louisville basketball coach ended after the season, but his run as an advocate for the guys he coached with the Cardinals continues.

Padgett is the guy that NBA personnel people have called with questions about the four U of L products who are eligible to be selected in the 2018 NBA Draft Thursday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Padgett is the guy that Raymond Spalding, Deng Adel, Quentin Snider and Anas Mahmoud have called with questions about how to navigate their paths into professional basketball, in the NBA or overseas.

All four former Cardinals have been invited for workouts by NBA clubs over the last six weeks, led by Spalding. Padgett said that more than half of the 30 clubs have drilled Spalding, with Adel getting looks from about a dozen franchises.

“They’ve both been really busy,” Padgett said.

If you trust the mock drafts — and Padgett says that is a mistake — only Spalding is likely to be selected Thursday.

According to Mike Gribanov, Spalding ranked as the consensus No. 51 player of 27 mock drafts. Adel, Snider and Mahmoud are not ranked in the top 60 of the two-round draft.

I asked Padgett for his take on his former guys — and about what questions NBA people have about the former Cardinals.

QUESTION: Ray seems to be drawing the most buzz. He was a late addition to the NBA Draft combine in Chicago in May and his name is showing up in more mock drafts. What is your sense of how the NBA views him?

PADGETT: “I’ve spoken to a majority of the teams about all the guys. But obviously I’ve spoken about Ray the most and Deng is not too far behind.

“What I’ve told every team, and I’m obviously biased, but I believe this: I think Ray could be the steal of the draft. I really do.

“I’m not going to say he could be the next Donovan Mitchell (the Cards’ contender for NBA rookie of the year after he was taken 13th last season) because I don’t think he’s going to be a lottery pick or anything like that.

“I really think that he’s just scratching the surface in terms of how good he can be. Last year was just a glimpse. He made a big jump from sophomore to junior year. I think going from what he accomplished last year to the next level, he will really be a big time steal for whoever takes him.

“He’s got all the physical tools. There’s nothing from a physical standpoint that he can’t provide. He’s obviously crazy athletic. He’s got an incredible wing span. His skill set has improved.

“I’ve told that to every team: I think him seeing the rewards of the work that he put in between his sophomore and junior seasons has turned his whole game and has made him work even harder to get where he wants to be.

“I think if he takes that to the next level, I think the sky’s the limit for him. I really do.”

QUESTION: Why are some teams hesitant? What questions remain?

PADGETT: “Every team has a different question mark on him. Seeing him first hand for three years, I’ve tried to dispel as many of those question marks as I can. Teams are never going to see a player where they don’t have a question mark about somebody. There’s no such thing as a perfect player.

“Some teams have said his consistency. Some have said his aggressiveness on the court, maybe.

“To me all that stuff is irrelevant. I think when teams have had a chance to bring him in and talk to him and sit down with him and see him work out, I think they really get all those questions answered.

“Obviously he blew people away with his interviews because he’s such a well-spoken, polite guy. He’s not going to have any issues off the court whatsoever. To me there’s just nothing there for anybody to worry about.

“I think teams would be crazy to pass him up. I really do.

“If you look at the way the NBA game has been played the last five or six years, every ‘five man’ in the NBA is 6-10 or 6-9 and has to be able to move and guard different people.

“Obviously he can do that. We switched every screen we went through this season with him because we knew he could guard anybody. I think he’s a perfect profile of what they’re looking for at the four or five spot in the NBA.

“I think he’s a no brainer, but obviously I am biased. Every team I got feedback from said that it went really well.

“He will definitely be taken somewhere. I’d be shocked if he’s not. I hope he sneaks into the first round. I’ve talked to some teams that have a little more interest and are a little more curious about him. Again you never know. It’s such a game. Until tomorrow night, you’re not going to know.

“I think he could sneak into the first round but he’ll definitely be taken at some point.”

QUESTION: Deng Adel is not projected to be taken by most analysts, even though he led Louisville in scoring (15 points per game) and shot 35 percent from distance. What have teams said about his professional future?

PADGETT: “Deng’s a little bit different because he went through this last year. I don’t know if he did quite as many workouts because he did them last year.

“Same kind of thing. I think he can be taken in the second round. He’s kind of a guy that every team I’ve spoken to, some teams like him and are intrigued by him and maybe some aren’t.

“It’s a need thing at his position. Do they need somebody at that position? From a physical ability standpoint, there’s not a whole lot that he’s missing. He’s got the size and the strength. He obviously can shoot the ball.

“He’s a guy that if he can get into the summer league with somebody or training camp with somebody, I think he’ll really turn some heads. He’s got a great work ethic. That’s a thing that a lot of teams have seen when they have brought him in is that he really works.

“The improvement that he’s made over that last three years has turned some people’s heads a little bit.

“Just his size and his strength for an off-guard position. He really can play the two, three or four. With some teams he might be able to play the four a little bit. With the way he can shoot the ball, he can stretch the floor a little bit.

“He can guard different positions and has a physical toughness to him that I don’t think a lot of people at his position might have.”

QUESTION: Despite those attributes, he’s not on most boards. What are the questions NBA people have about Adel?

PADGETT: “I’ve heard a lot of different things. Each team is different. A lot of teams have asked about the injuries that he had early in his career. That’s going to happen with everybody. Some people might get as specific as saying, ‘Does his ball-handling need to get better?’

“To me, I tell every team, ‘Show me a player who doesn’t need to improve.’

“I try to combat the question marks for these guys as much as I can. More than anything, I know how hard these guys work and how good they want to be. So when they get to that level and whatever team says this is what they need to work on, they’ll put a ton of work in on it, there’s no doubt about it.

“Again, and this goes a long way with a lot of teams, he’s a guy who off the court, you don’t have to worry about. He’s got the ability to be a good teammate and do everything that he’s supposed to do.”

QUESTION: Quentin Snider did not have as many NBA workouts as Spalding or Adel, but the Pacers invited him to Indianapolis last week. What’s his future?

PADGETT: “He’ll get an offer to play with somebody (this summer). It’s just hard to say. It’s tougher when you’re a point guard. It seems like there are a lot more point guards out there that you have to battle with.

“I’ve had some teams call me about him, too. They’re keeping an eye on him after the career he had.

“There’s no doubt about that. (Being able to continue to play) is everything to him. He’ll be successful playing somewhere. It’s just a matter of where.”

QUESTION: Anas Mahmoud played in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational in April. He’s a 7-footer who was a solid shot-blocker last season but his strength and body mass have been issues. Will his size get him into the NBA Summer League?

PADGETT: “He’s intriguing to people because of his size and the way moves. Obviously the big question with him is going to be his strength and his durability.

“I think that teams have been pleasantly surprised when they bring him in and they see how well he moves and how skilled he is, with how tall he is.

“I think he’s a guy who when he gets into summer league, he’ll turn some heads. When he gets in the game situations and the game setting, that’s when he really shines.

“Obviously every time I talk to him he says that his workouts went really well. I guess that can’t be a bad thing. He’ll get some looks, there’s no question, because he’s so agile and mobile and big — and on the defensive end of the court, he’s a game changer.

“He’ll get an opportunity in summer league and hopefully he and Quentin will get to a training camp. But if they don’t, I think they both will have plenty of good opportunities to play overseas and I think they’re both willing to do that.

“We’ve had a lot of guys who have played over there for 10 years and done very well for themselves. So there could be worse things to do for a living, that’s for sure.”

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