Deng Adel may not be a household name outside the state of Florida yet, but with his combination of size, athleticism and ball skills, that should change shortly after the April live period for the Sudanese import.
"Originally I'm from South Sudan and I left when I was six or seven years old and moved to Australia and lived there for about 10 years," Adel said. "I just started [playing] basketball in 2009; I used to play soccer with all my friends. Then I moved and the area I moved to everyone played basketball, so I didn't have anyone to hang out with so I gave basketball a shot. I just played with them and kept competing and realized I'm actually good at this. Then one day I got a call from Coach Loren Jackson from Victory Rock Prep (in Bradenton, Fla.) and he wanted me to come over here. I realized that was a good move because I wanted to go to college, so I moved to Bradenton in August of last year."
Moving across town is enough to create stress in a person's life; Adel has moved to two different continents and admitted that it hasn't always been easy.
"Oh it was tough, it is tough," he said. "My mom is in Australia and my dad is still in South Sudan, so I go back about once a year to see how everyone is doing. I have siblings in Australia, too. They're studying there, some are working. I Skype them a lot and I call my dad in Sudan on a weekly basis."
Fortunately, the 6-foot-7, 185-pound junior met some students at Victory Rock Prep that he had a great deal in common with.
"The good thing with the school I'm at is that we have a lot of Sudanese kids and one of my cousins is here," Adel said. "There are three or four kids that lived in Australia in the same city as me so it's not that difficult once I got settled in. Plus Coach Jackson takes pretty good care of us."
Adel, who has no discernable accent, enjoys school and is preparing to take college entrance exams.
"I'm scheduled to take one of the exams in June," said Adel. "Right now I'm taking one of the SAT classes to practice for it. Right now my GPA is around 3.0-3.2. Since I've been here, I think I'm averaging about an A in all my subjects. By the end of school I hope my GPA goes up. I like science, I like biology. I hated math at the start but now that I started getting it, it's become kind of fun. I like history as well. Because I came to America, I wanted to learn more about it so I'm taking U.S. History. I'm enjoying that, learning about the country and everything."
The small forward attended the John Lucas Midwest Invitational Camp in November and spoke about what being there was like.
"It was my first camp in America," he said. "It was a lot of work, like seven hours a day. We did a lot of drilling and the last two hours were games. There were a lot of talented kids there. I just wanted to see where I stand against the kids in my class."
As for his recruitment, one school is standing out to Adel, but he told us that he's not that focused on it right now.
"Recently Louisville came down and they're showing interest," he said. "I think they're going to watch our games in Dallas. I like Louisville, their playing style. They do a really good job pressuring the offense. They get up and down too. That's the type of team I'd like to go to. Nebraska and LSU have been texting. Virginia has sent mail. I let Coach Jackson do most of the recruiting work. I'm just focused on getting better right now."
According to Jackson, USC, Loyola Marymount and Auburn have offered Adel, though the Auburn offer came from the now-fired Tony Barbee.
With the April live period upon us, Adel knows that coaches will be evaluating him, but knows he needs to maintain his focus on the task at hand.
"I've given it thought, but at the same time I don't want to get carried away and do stuff I'm not comfortable with," Adel said. "During our season, we had a lot of coaches that came to our practices, so I've had a little taste of that. I just do what I do best. I'm not going to try to do anything I don't really do well. You get nervous of course, but once the game starts I'm focused on the game."
Speaking of what he does best, Deng Adel is an energy guy that excels in transition. He has a good handle for his position and is a dependable mid-range shooter. He can knock down open 3-pointers, is a good rebounder and is a more than willing defender.
"I'm a versatile player, so I just do what the team needs," Adel said. "Sometimes it's defense. I pride myself on that. If they need me to play tough defense on a player that's having a good game, I'll do that."
For now, Adel has big plans for the spring and summer. He'll play in the Adidas Gauntlet series for his Florida Elite AAU team, and he plans to attend camps and continue working on his game.
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