SALT LAKE CITY — Once Villanova guard Eric Paschall’s flight landed in Salt Lake City on Monday, he immediately tagged Utah Jazz franchise star Donovan Mitchell in his Instagram story.
Although away in New York, the Jazz guard responded jokingly to the post with “MY SON!!!!!!!” as the caption.
Paschall was one of six participants in the latest Jazz pre-draft workouts Tuesday at the practice facility, alongside Ole Miss’ Terence Davis, UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins, Washington State’s Robert Franks, Virginia Tech’s Ahmed Hill and Troy’s Jordon Varnado.
Although Paschall won a national title at Villanova as a junior, then averaged 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds to earn All-Big East first-team honors this past season, his longtime friendship with Mitchell certainly didn’t hurt in Utah.
“If you meet Donovan, he’s the same exact person growing up, he stayed the same, he stayed humble and he blew up out here, but he still the same dude,” Paschall said of their close bond. “Me and him still talk all the time and we just keep contact all the time.
“He hit me up before this workout just saying, ‘Go do your thing.’ It would be cool to play with him again, obviously, but I’ve just got to see where everything takes me.”
Mitchell and Paschall grew up as neighbors in New York, then played AAU basketball together, winning national titles with the Riverside Hawks and The City programs.
On Saturday night, America got to know #Villanova's Eric Paschall (@Epaschall4), who led @NovaMBB with 24 points on 10-11 shooting.— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) April 1, 2018
Paschall's on the right in this photo. You probably know his AAU teammate on the left. That's Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell). #FinalFour pic.twitter.com/qXR8WwWeki
Paschall was looking to show the Jazz that he could handle the ball off the dribble and shoot while displaying his complete skill set with head coach Quin Snyder in attendance as well. Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin sees the 6-foot-8, 255-pound wing/big as a stretch four in today’s NBA game, with an opportunity down the road to play small forward if he improves.
Perrin and the Jazz front office were certainly aware of his relationship with Mitchell, and don’t hesitate to ask players about workout participants beforehand to better gauge their attitudes.
“With all our players, if they have a relationship (like) Naz (Mitrou-Long) and Georges (Niang) with the guys from Iowa State, we’ll ask them and talk to them about it,” Perrin said. “So, with Donovan, he’s got such a great personality, he and Eric grew up in the same neighborhood so yeah, we have talked to Donovan.”
For Davis, the Utah trip marked his seventh pre-draft workout. He also worked out for Boston, Atlanta, Minnesota, Golden State, Phoenix and Philadelphia, while receiving callbacks from Boston and Golden State. His stock is reportedly rising on the mock drafts, but the 2018-19 All-SEC second-team member says he hasn’t paid much attention to things he can’t control.
“Not necessarily, because at the beginning of this process, I wasn’t in the mocks. I wasn’t in anything honestly,” said Davis, who averaged 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. “I think I was like a top-80 player, then I think after the G League invite I ended up playing well and got invited to the combine, and I’ve just been giving thanks to God for the opportunities because I’ve just been taking advantage of them.”
Although Paschall received much attention throughout his Jazz workout for his friendship with Mitchell, the 22-year-old didn’t earn the invite to Utah off that alone. As a national champion with four games of 25 or more points under his belt as a senior, he’s also looking to pave his own way in the league, possibly as a member of the Jazz with the 23rd overall pick.
“I feel like in every stage you’ve got to reinvent yourself,” Paschall said. “I mean, going into college, you’ve got to reinvent yourself, going into high school you’ve got to reinvent yourself, going into AAU circuit. … so, I mean, you’ve got to reinvent yourself everywhere and I definitely feel like everywhere you go, you’re a freshman and this is going to be my rookie year.”