Do you know who your favorite basketball player is going to be three years from now?
We do. Bol Bol.
Why are we so sure? Let’s count the reasons.
1. He is going to be really good. Bol was one of the top recruits in the country, ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2018 by ESPN and No. 3 by 247 Sports. He has been dunking since sixth grade. He has committed to play at Oregon. After one season he is expected to go pro and is projected to be drafted in 2019 somewhere from No. 2 (NBA Draft Room) to No. 4 (nbadraft.net). But simply being good doesn’t make someone your favorite, which leads us to:
2. He is the son of Manute Bol. The 7-foot-6 Manute was one of the most likable players in N.B.A. history. Seriously, did you ever hear anyone say: “I just don’t care to watch Manute Bol play. I just don’t enjoy watching him shoot a 3.” (He made 43 in his career.) Besides the joy he brought to fans with his long-armed shot blocking, he earned good will through his humanitarian efforts to help his native Sudan rebuild from a civil war before his death from kidney trouble and a skin disorder at 47 in 2010.
3. He has a similar build to his father. Bol Bol has the spindly frame that helped make his father famous. He is 7-foot 1 1/2 inches, and just 220 or 225 pounds. “No, I’m probably not going to put on 50 pounds of muscle,” he said in an article on the Players’ Tribune this week announcing his college choice. “I’ve been trying. Not happening.”
His size was probably inevitable. Manute told The New York Times in 1985: “My mother was 6 feet 10, my father 6 feet 8 and my sister is 6 feet 8. And my great-grandfather was even taller — 7 feet 10.”
4. He’s got some skills his father didn’t. Manute averaged 2.6 points a game in his N.B.A. career. Bol Bol averaged 22 points in summer league. “I’m not my dad,” he wrote. “He was a true big man, a guy who played in the paint and blocked shots. But I like to work from the perimeter. I like to put the ball on the floor. I get a lot of satisfaction from passing to someone who’s more open than me.”
5. He seems refreshingly candid. Bol Bol likes athletic equipment. “Shoes. I’ve always been really into them,” he said on the Players’ Tribune. Why did he pick Oregon? He doesn’t offer a lot of platitudes.
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