Jericho, VT Native Feels Right at Home with the Catamounts
The Vermont Catamounts roster currently consists of 16 players and barring any unforeseen changes will in all likelihood remain that way as we inch closer to the start of the 2020-21 season. The Cats do not have any remaining scholarship spots available and with an already full roster, they likely won’t be taking on any additional walk-ons. Starting from the bottom and working our way up the ladder, we’ll study and examine each player to best determine what we can expect out of them for the upcoming 2020-21 season. First up, sophomore guard Deng Adiang.
Officially listed at 5’10, 160lbs, Adiang joined the Catamounts last year as a freshman walk-on. The Jericho, VT native would spend his high school years as a standout at Mount Mansfield Union before enrolling at Vermont Academy where he was a captain during his senior season. Along with Adiang, Kevin Garrison and former walk-on Benny Shungu are the only other native Vermonters on this Catamount roster.
Much like his teammate Garrison, Adiang could have easily found much more playing time at the division two or even three collegiate level, but ultimately chose to walk-on at Vermont in part for the chance to join a winning program and compete against a higher standard of competition. Although Adiang would rarely see court action last year, the Vermont native is no slouch. During his time at MMU, Adiang would be named the Most Valuable Defender two years in a row. Likewise, Adiang and fellow Catamount teammate Garrison won a national championship together in a division two AAU tournament playing under Norwich University coach Paul Booth.
What can we expect out of the undersized Vermont guard heading into year two? Can Adiang follow in the footsteps of former walk-on Benny Shungu and become a solid contributor at the next level or is he destined to remain at the end of the bench for at least another season in Burlington?
How Adiang Can Make an Impact
As is the case with the majority of walk-ons, Adiang would hardly see the floor during his first year in Burlington. The pint-sized guard appeared in just six games averaging 0.3 points, 0.2 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game on a 2.3 minutes basis. Adiang managed a season best seven minutes against Gallaudet, with the rest of his floor time coming in the final 60 seconds or so of blow-outs. It seems safe to assume more of the same will hold true for Adiang in year two.
The biggest impact Adiang can have for next year is continuing to support and challenge his fellow teammates. As part of an electric bench mob, Adiang helped energize his teammates and the crowd at Patrick Gym after highlight performing plays. By all accounts Adiang fits the classic mold of a local walk-on who’s perfectly content with filling his role and supporting the team. He’s a great locker room guy who knows that his prominent impact will come from encouraging his peers.
Likewise, the young guard has earned Coach Becker’s admiration through his hustle and defensive tendencies. Coach Becker has shown his support for local Vermont players, but with Adiang only clocking in 5’10 and Garrison and Shungu already on the roster, he could have easily brushed away the notion of adding another undersized guard into the mix. Along with his bubbly personality, Adiang would earn the final roster spot in large due to his defensive savvy. While it’s always a rare sighting to see Adiang in game action, he puts 110% into every practice to ensure that his teammates are working just as hard as he is.
Room for Improvement?
Obviously with any walk-on there’s going to be numerous areas that need significant improvement. With very little game tape to go off of, it’s difficult to pinpoint what parts of his game Adiang should spend his offseason focusing on. In terms of the roster as a whole, Adiang most likely has the lowest ceiling and even reaching his max potential might not make him more than a rotational player at best.
While the clear-cut answer would be he needs improvement everywhere, a better answer might be in-game composure. Realistically we won’t be seeing much of Adiang during the regular season, but when the guard does manage to check-in against the yearly division three contest and final minute of blow-outs, it would be great to see the young guard feeling a sense of comfort on the court. With the game in hand, all Adiang needs to do is control the tempo. Don’t feel pressured by the moment – hell, I still get butterflies playing pick-up basketball. Make smart choices, don’t force a play if it isn’t there and don’t turn the ball over.
Even in those final seconds and division three affairs, if Adiang can prove that the moment isn’t too big for him it’ll go a long way towards earning Coach Beckers trust. In the perfect world the Cats won’t have to rely on Adiang outside of practice, but should any significant injuries strike then they’ll want to find comfort in knowing they can depend on Adiang for short spells at a time.
Since Adiang won’t see much time on the court, the team goals should far outweigh any of his personal individual goals at this point. Continuing to support his teammates, while also challenging them to be better is going to be his number one priority. Even though Adiang will only be a sophomore he should look to become a mentor for the younger players and incoming transfers who are trying to learn Coach Becker’s system. This is Stef Smith and Benny Shungu’s last dance and Vermont will most likely look to address the guard depth through freshmen recruits the following year, so by studying up this year Adiang can provide that vetern leadership in later years.
In terms of individual statistics, Adiang’s numbers are pretty bleak to say the least. His only points came against division three opponent Gallaudet. The yearly D3 contest is going to be where Adiang sees the majority of his playing time, but he still should manage to sneak into a few others before the final horn. When Adiang enters for those final seconds, the game will have already been decided and anything he adds to the score sheet will be just gravy. Even though it won’t matter, scoring against a legit D1 program would be an awesome accomplishment for someone in Adiang’s shoes. It would be an excellent confidence booster for himself and his teammates who recognize all the hard work Adiang has put into his craft.
Slated to be the last player off the bench is a pretty tough role to be in. All of these young men are competitors who would gladly play a full 40 minutes if you asked them. Nonetheless, you’ll never hear Adiang complain about playing time or his role. The Vermont native loves and supports his teammates and nothing makes him happier than being part of such a successful and winning Catamount program.
With Vermont having an abundance of incredibly strong guards, Adiang could decide to transfer to a lower level to seek more playing time or even redshirt a year. Both those options hold very little weight and should be considered highly unlikely, but you never know. Ultimately it’ll come down to what Adiang desires more, but the Jericho native seems more than content with where he is.
Adiang would finish the year averaging 0.3 points, 0.2 assists and 0.2 rebounds a game on 2.3 minutes basis. For the 2020-21 season you can expect Adiang to essentially mirror those numbers.
2020-21 Statistical Prediction
- 2.2 minutes per game
- 0.2 points per game
- 0.5 assists per game
- 0.2 rebounds per game
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