Louisville freshmen 'very special'

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico - University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino watched his team lose for a fifth time this week on a trip to Puerto Rico, but said he saw a lot of positives from the Cardinals. Among the positives for the Cardinals was the play of three freshmen - Deng Adel, Ray Spalding and Donovan Mitchell in a 102-94 loss to the Puerto Rican National team.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was stumped a bit with a question about his group of freshmen last night after the Cardinals lost 102-94 to the Puerto Rican National Team at Mario Morales Coliseum.

Pitino was asked which of the three freshmen who saw a lot of minutes - Ray Spalding, Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell - could turn out to be the best player for the Cardinals.

"I don't know, I really don't," Pitino said. "I really have no clue.

"Donovan is a wonderful athlete. Ray Spalding has great potential. Deng Adel has great potential. I can't tell you which one will be the best college player. They're all three very special players.

The terrific trio of freshmen join Ryan McMahon, who is expected to be redshirted this season, to make up the four-man freshman class that was ranked as the No. 7 class in the nation by Scout.com.

"They're really good and they're even better young men," Pitino said. "It's going to be fun to watch them."

The 6-foot-10 Spalding, a freshman from Trinity High School, fouled out of the game but ended up with 11 points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of action. He's led the Cardinals in every game he's played and every practice in deflections.

Pitino called that "very unusual" for a true freshman.

"Ray's going to be a good basketball player because I've never had a freshman lead every practice and every game with the most deflections," Pitino said. "It's unheard of, and he does. He's got quick hands. He sees well. He had a good game."

Spalding said Pitino has been working on his aggressiveness and making him "not be like a church mouse," noting the coaches want him to show more emotion and keep his motor going.

"I fouled out, so I was a little more aggressive," Spalding said with a smile. He had 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five blocked shots in a game against the Puerto Rico Junior Team on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-7 Adel, who only played on Wednesday in the second game, had six points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal on 3 of 6 from the field. Adel hit two baseline jumpers and said he's "really been working on" his jump shot.

Mitchell also fouled out but was active and played another solid game, garnering seven points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 11:38. He was 3 of 4 from the field, including an eye-catching dunk.

"He was great tonight," Pitino said. "His hustle was great."

The 6-4 Mitchell, who Pitino said he "almost exploded" when he found out that his guard was 220 pounds last week. He's down to 211 after working out and going on a diet during the trip.

"I told Ray Ganong I didn't want my guards heavy," Pitino said. "I told Donovan he wasn't trying out for Bobby Petrino's team. But he's down to 211 and we'll get him at 205 and he'll be great there."

Pitino repeated his pleasure with the freshmen, noting "they're a bunch of great kids."

"I couldn't begin to tell you who is going to be the best of those three," Pitino said. "This is a very talented freshman class. We have some guys who are really going to help us out."

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