Villanova’s Eric Paschall is much less famous than his childhood friend Donovan Mitchell, but Paschall has at least one thing Mitchell wants.
“He’s always like ‘I wish I would have won the national championship,'” Paschall said — which he accomplished in 2018.
While Mitchell has missed out on that, at least at the collegiate level, he did find one thing Paschall wants now: NBA success.
After growing up as neighbors, the two friends started playing together as soon as when they were eight years old, for the Riverside Hawks AAU team. Later, they played for The City AAU team, winning national championships even as 13 year olds. Paschall was the first to dunk, but Mitchell was the first to throw down a windmill.
Want to know what Mitchell was like then?
“Same person he is now,” Paschall said. “If you meet Donovan, he’s the same exact person. He blew up out here, and he’s still the same dude, and me and him still talk all the time. He hit me up before this workout to just say, ‘Hey, go do your thing.’”
Paschall just as Mitchell did two years ago, has been going around the country, showing off his game for NBA teams. As a 6-foot-7 big man with a 6-11 wingspan, the 22-year-old has impressed teams by showing a versatile game for the Wildcats. He can score inside thanks to his wide shoulders and strength, but has shown touch to score on the perimeter as well.
“He’s a good shooter, he’s got a body that can play stretch 4, with his strength. He has NBA range,” Walt Perrin, Jazz vice president of player personnel said after his workout with the Jazz on Tuesday. "Now, he didn’t shoot it very well today, but we know he has NBA range. We know he can shoot the ball.
The Ringer’s mock draft draws a comparison to a young Paul Millsap, another undersized forward that found success in the NBA through his ability to help a team in multiple ways. Paschall doesn’t have Millsap’s rebounding acumen — Millsap was one of the best NCAA rebounders of all time — but much of the all-around potential is there. Others see more limited upside, though.
For Paschall, he’s trying to show off his jack-of-all-trades game to NBA teams in workouts.
“To play in the NBA for me, I’m going to have to be more of a complete player,” he said. “So just doing all the little things defensively, being able to guard guards and bigs, being able to pass the ball, shoot the ball, score the ball. Anyway I can get on the floor, I will.”
And of course, if the Jazz draft him, it won’t hurt that he’s familiar with Mitchell — and his teammates — even before getting into the NBA.
“I’ve been out here with Donovan and I’ve been around the guys, I just like the culture. Everybody’s cool, everybody accepted me just cause I was Donovan’s friend,” Paschall said. “It was cool being able to talk to everybody and be able to just fit in. I really like the program, I really like the way they play.”
He wasn’t alone at the workout, of course. Ole Miss’ Terence Davis, UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins, Washington State’s Robert Franks, Virginia Tech’s Ahmed Hill, and Troy’s Jordan Varnado were the other five participants.
Among them, Davis is the highest-regarded prospect at the moment, thanks to his shooting, defense, and relatively quick first step for a 6-4 guard. He’s been rising up during the pre-draft schedule.
“At the beginning of this process, I wasn’t in the mocks. Got a G-League [combine] invite, played well, got invited to the [NBA] combine, and I’ve just been taking advantage of the opportunities,” Davis said. “Now, they have me top 40 in the process, so things have been in my favor.”
Jazz free-agent mini-camp
On Tuesday, the Jazz also announced the participants in their annual free-agent mini-camp, which helps the team find out about available players for summer league, their G League team, and even Jazz training camp. Here’s the list of players who will work out with the Jazz:
Of note are former first round picks Lucas Noguiera, Justin Patton, Cameron Payne and Thomas Robinson. Willie Reed played for the Salt Lake City Stars last season, as did Isaac Haas, Tre’Shaun Fletcher, Jairus Lyles and Tanner McGrew.