Bol Bol, Oregon’s 7’3 freshman center, is making his way into national headlines as he dominates collegiate games with his towering stature and smooth shooting stroke. He is already drawing comparisons to NBA players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis due to his unique playstyle for a player of his height, and people across the nation are tuning in to watch the future lottery pick excel on the court. Although many are trying to hold off on comparing him to contemporary NBA superstars, Bol Bol does what most big men seemingly cannot. A 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, Bol has been surrounded by hype since high school, but can he live up to it?
Bol Bol has basketball in his blood. His father was Manute Bol, a former NBA center who in his career had over 2,000 blocks which is 15th among all NBA players to date. A contributing factor to his enormous amount of blocks might be that Manute was the tallest player to ever play in the NBA at a whopping 7’7 (Tied with Gheorghe Mureșan). Manute was known for his stellar rim protecting ability, and he is the only player in NBA history to have more blocks than points. Even though the rest of Manute’s game was fairly unimpressive, the same cannot be said for his son. Bol Bol is already proving himself to be an extremely versatile center, being able to not only block and rebound exceptionally but hit shots from all over the court, even from beyond the arc. As of now, Bol Bol has only played 5 regular season games with Oregon, but he has a 56% field goal percentage and is shooting an astounding 54% on 3-pointers. If NBA scouts weren’t eyeing him before, they most definitely are now.
Against Texas Southern, Bol Bol dropped 32 points in only 31 minutes, displaying his strong offensive skillset which can only get better as he continues to gain experience facing many of the best players in college basketball. He shot 4/6 from beyond the arc against Texas Southern and although it is still very early in the season, the shooting potential is definitely there. With the 3-point shot becoming more and more prevalent in the NBA for players of all sizes, big men such as Joel Embiid and Al Horford are taking more threes than ever and Bol is proving that he too can adapt to this playstyle. Bol also has the ability to dunk while barely jumping. His vertical skill is very useful to have as he will presumably spend the majority of his playing time in close proximity to the rim.
Bol is also a defensive force, which is much more expected than his exceptional offensive skills. He is averaging 2.8 blocks per game, thanks to his height listing at 7’3 with a crazy 7’8 wingspan. In addition, he is averaging 10 rebounds a game and he even had 3 steals against Syracuse, who was ranked #15 nationally at the time (Oregon won the game 80-65). Similar to his offensive ability, his defense will only improve over time, which will bode well come draft day.
In an exciting 2019 draft class full of big names such as Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Romeo Langford, Bol Bol is sure to be in the mix with the abundance of talent and versatility he has shown so far. Although Oregon had a tough loss against underdog Texas Southern, they will look to bounce back in their game this Saturday against Houston, who is off to a strong start at 5-0. Scouts and fans across the country will have their eyes on Bol as the exciting and unpredictable college basketball season continues, and only time will tell if Bol Bol can live up to the hype.
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