Louisville Cardinals 2016–17 team preview

Deng Adel

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2016, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here. Read scouting reports on every team in the top 20 here, and find the rest of our college basketball preview package here.

The dozens of NBA scouts who were wowed by Deng Adel during college workouts at the adidas Nations Camp in Long Beach, Calif., last summer may have been surprised, but Rick Pitino wasn’t. “When you put him in an unstructured, all-star-type event, he’s going to perform well,” Pitino says of the 6' 7″, 200-pound sophomore forward from Sudan. “Deng is still learning how to play the game, but he’s an explosive athlete. He’s going to score a lot of points for us this year.”

The Cardinals will need him to do that after losing the top three scorers from a team that went 23–8 last season. (Louisville did not play in the NCAA tournament because of a self-imposed postseason ban stemming from recruiting violations.) Adel’s freshman season was interrupted by a left-knee injury in November, which caused him to miss eight games, but he returned in time for conference play and averaged 7.2 points and 3.2 rebounds over the final five games. A gifted defender—he forced Brandon Ingram into a 10-turnover, 3-for-10 shooting night in a win over Duke last February—Adel spent the off-season working on his jumper. His efforts should pay off behind the arc, where he made just seven shots (in 20 attempts) in 2015–16. “His form wasn’t bad, but he had a very low trajectory,” Pitino says. “He’s shooting it higher now, and it makes a tremendous difference.”

The Cardinals’ fortunes, like Adel’s shot, should be on the rise.

X-factor: Junior guard Quentin Snider

Quentin Snider is the top returning scorer. With Damion Lee and Trey Lewis gone, Snider will not only have the responsibility of running the offense but also of directing Louisville’s suffocating matchup zone.

Coach’s take: Rick Pitino

“Our schedule is three times tougher than last year. For all of our nonconference games, we wanted to make sure they had a minimum of three returning starters and a top 75 RPI. This is a young, inexperienced team, so I wanted to play a tough schedule to get them ready for the postseason. We lost two scholarships [due to self-imposed penalties], but we are deeper than we were last season. Quentin Snider and maybe Donovan Mitchell are the only ones who have a lock on a starting position. Otherwise, it will be a matter of who plays best that week. We’re going to really pick up the pressure, and we’re going to run a pure motion offense, which I’ve never done. That’s where all five players are in constant motion. Our mindset both offensively and defensively is to wear people down.”

Projected Depth Chart

Name Class Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg Volume Mins
Donovan Mitchell So SG/PG 11.8 4.6 2.7 117.6 21% 71%
Quentin Snider Jr PG 11.8 3.0 3.8 117.4 20% 81%
Deng Adel So SF 11.0 6.1 1.6 109.3 19% 75%
Tony Hicks Sr SG 8.6 2.4 1.5 104.2 24% 48%
Mangok Mathiang Sr PF 7.4 5.3 0.7 111.1 20% 51%
Raymond Spalding So PF 7.0 4.9 0.6 115.5 19% 47%
Jaylen Johnson Jr PF 7.0 4.7 0.6 113.6 18% 52%

Projected ACC Standings

Conference Rank Team Proj. Conf. Record ’15-16 Conf. Record
1 Duke 15–3 11–7
2 North Carolina 13–5 14–4
3 Virginia 13–5 13–5
4 Louisville 11–7 12–6
5 Syracuse 11–7 9–9
6 NC State 10–8 5–13
7 Miami 9–9 13–5
8 Clemson 9–9 10–8
9 Virginia Tech 9–9 10–8
10 Notre Dame 9–9 11–7
11 Florida State 8–10 8–10
12 Pittsburgh 8–10 9–9
13 Wake Forest 6–12 2–16
14 Georgia Tech 2–16 8–10
15 Boston College 2–16 0–18

This article originally appeared on