Louisville, KY (WAVE) - Deng Adel is returning to UofL for his junior season.
Adel declared for the NBA Draft and worked out for seven NBA teams. He had until May 24 to return to school.
"I talked to him last night in depth about it and asked him what he wanted to do and he is really, really tuned into trying to win a championship, and I actually responded to him, I said, Deng it's not that easy, we've only won three in the history of the school and he said, well I'd really like to try and play in a Final Four and I said, well it's really not that easy, but he kept saying that he felt we would have a great team and he wants to help lead that team, and then he said, on a personal level, he wants to be a lottery pick," Pitino said.
Adel was the Cards third leading scorer in 2016-17, averaging 12.1 points a game. His 44 three-pointers were also third on the team.
Pitino says Adel got positive feedback from NBA scouts and that it's clear what he needs to improve to reach his goals.
"You've got to make your defense just as strong as your offense to be a lottery pick and he's gonna go to work on that, so he's really, really motivated and he's coming back for all the right reasons, he's coming back for the team," Pitino said, adding, "he's coming back to be a special draft choice and we're excited because I intend on playing him a lot at the two-guard spot. We think we will have great length."
Pitino talked with the media for about 40 minutes, among the other topics discussed:
- the Cards will once again play a difficult schedule in 2017-18.
- highlights include games against Seton Hall, Memphis in New York City, at Kentucky, a visit from Indiana and a Big Ten Challenge game on the road
- Mangok Mathiang could be a second round NBA selection and could make a roster
- Jaylen Johnson recently worked out for the LA Lakers and Houston.
- Anas Mahmoud needs to work on his free throw shooting, jump shot and strength this summer.
- Ray Spalding needs to get in the gym this summer and put in the work to improve.
- Donovan Mitchell prepared for last season in a way that should be an example to Adel and Spalding.
Pitino declined to comment on UofL's ongoing NCAA investigation. He said the NCAA hearing in Cincinnati in April was "one of the most difficult days and I don't even want to relive any of those hours."
A final decision from the NCAA, including any additional penalties, if they deem necessary, is expected in the next few weeks.