Louisville's 6'7 Australian Deng Adel was one of 20 players across NCAA Division I college basketball named as a candidate for the 2017 Julius Erving small forward of the Year Award by The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Adel's freshman season was limited due to injury, sustaining an MCL sprain that saw him miss 8 games. Despite the injury and a loaded Cardinals roster, Adel still managed to gather 4 points and 2.1 rebounds per game last season. With a change in roster personnel and the experience of a freshman season behind him, Adel is viewed as being one the players to help take Louisville back to the NCAA Tournament this season.
Legendary head coach Rick Pitino shared his expectations of Adel for the coming season as the Cardinals media day.
“I think Deng is going to score a lot of points,” advised Pitino. “The last 6 years have seen us go on a great run.We don’t want to take a backward step from that."
"We are a top 10 team in my opinion,” Adel explained. “We are a close team, a talented team. We are thirsty to work and I am just excited to get back. I am expecting and wanting to take on a big role as we look to achieve our goals."
Departed Cardinals star Damion Lee (Boston Celtics) spoke glowingly of his former team-mate ahead of the 2016/17 season.
"When Deng [Adel] gets it and Deng gets going, I’m telling you, next year – you can mark my words and this might be some pressure, but I think he’s the type of kid to fight and live up to it – I think he’ll be one of the best players in the country," Lee said.
CBS Sports has Louisville listed at number 17 in their pre-season college basketball rankings. Their ability to live up to that early season expectation may well depend on the output of their star Australian swingman.
Saint Mary's star point guard Emmett Naar has however been overlooked for the Bob Cousy point guard of the Year Award. Despite posting a team-best 14 points and 6.4 assists per game (16th in the nation) on his way to earning All-WCC First Team selection as a sophomore, Naar will now need to convince the selection committee to add him when they next revise the list which will be narrowed down to 10 in February. CBS Sports has placed the Gaels at number 15 in their pre-season rankings in what shapes to be a big season for the West Coast Conference team.
2017 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Candidates
Evan Bradds, Belmont Kelan Martin, Butler Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson Terry Larrier, Connecticut Jayson Tatum, Duke Dwayne Bacon, Florida St. OG Anunoby, Indiana Deng Adel, Louisville Justin Jackson, North Carolina VJ Beachem, Notre Dame Jae'Sean Tate, Ohio St. Dillon Brooks, Oregon Tres Tinkle, Oregon St. Vince Edwards, Purdue Dikembe Dixson, UIC Kevin Hervey, UT Arlington Jalen Moore, Utah St. Josh Hart, Villanova Markis McDuffie, Wichita St. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier