Bol Bol Dominates Syracuse in a Win at 2K Empire Classic, Here is Where His Draft Stock Stands (Video)Read Now
On his 19th birthday, Oregon men’s basketball star freshman Bol Bol finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks in an 80-65 win over Syracuse in the consolation game of the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden. This was a bounce-back performance for Bol and the Ducks, as they laid an egg Thursday night in the semifinals against Iowa. Uneven performances early in the season is what Oregon head coach Dana Altman expects from a young team. Following Friday’s win against Syracuse he said:
Today, I thought we competed much better…I’m really proud of the way they bounced back. We were really disappointed in them last night and our coaches expressed that. The way they turned it around, for a young team that hadn’t been together – I was pleased with that.
But the story of the tournament and this game is Bol. The son of former NBA player Manute Bol is 7’2 with a 7’8 wingspan. He’s listed at 230, but in person doesn’t look like he’s more than 210. But the lanky freshman has range, handle, touch and a great feel for the game. The rarest of attributes reserved for players in the NBA affectionately referred to as unicorns. See Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis & Kristaps Porzingis. 7 footers that possess guard-like skills and attributes to varying degrees. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has seen a lot of great players over his tenure in college basketball, but Bol is special Following the game, he said of Bol:
He’s very good…He’s got great touch. I think that’s the biggest thing. He has a great feel for the game. He’s a good passer and he’s a good scorer. He can shoot from the perimeter, he can shoot from the high post – that’s a great combination.
For Altman and Oregon, there is a fine line he has to balance between pushing Bol to get the most out of him and being patient because he is a freshman. But the likelihood is, Bol will be a one and done, so patience is a luxury Altman can’t afford. Oregon looks like a tournament team and a sweet 16 run or deeper will be dependent on the maturation of the uber-talented, but super slight freshman.
His ability to adapt and handle the rigors and physicality of the college game quickly will decide how far he can take this team, and he’s smart and understands that. After the win, I asked him to assess his play in the early season and about the adjustment to the college game.
Altman agrees with Bol, saying:
We do have to get him stronger. He’s got to play the game as more of an athlete, rather than straight up and down. When you’re straight up and down, everything seems to be moving a lot faster and seems to be a lot more physical than it is. He’s got to be lower and a better athlete. He’s a really good athlete, but when he’s straight up and down everybody pushes him around. He’s going to figure all these things out and he’s working with us, he wants to be a good player and he’s unique.
As we project forward to his potential in the NBA, this will be an area where improvements will have to be made. But he is a 19-year-old kid and he can definitely add more muscle and weight to his frame. He may never get as muscular as Giannis, but he could be wiry strong like KD. He is nowhere near the offensive talent of KD, but he has skills that will have many GM’s salivating.
Right now he doesn’t project ahead of any of Duke’s three freshmen and is likely a top 10 pick, though he may not make it past the 5th pick, as his potential might be too tempting to pass up. He’s not a plus athlete, but his feel is something you can’t teach and he’s only played four college games thus far.
For you fans of NBA teams that will be picking in the lottery in 2019 (you know who you are), you may want to stay up late and catch some Pac-12 college hoops. Oregon looks like the best team in the league, early on and Bol is your early favorite for freshman player of the year in the conference. Think of him as Kristaps Porzingis light, that’s not a bad thing.
Watch highlights of Bol against Syracuse and Dana Altman’s comments on his young star.