Majok Majok

Every major college basketball program is looking for the athletic big man that can play inside, run the floor and rebound. That type of player can turn a program around in a season. Majok Majok may be that type of player for a program that can develop his basketball skills to match his athletic skills.

Majok Majok remains a bit of a mystery to basketball recruiting fans. The 6'8" power forward is best known right now for his cousin, Ater Majok, a forward for the Connecticut Huskies. His coach, Ed Smith, says that will change as there is a long list of major programs looking at his talented forward.

Coach Ed smith runs a foundation that helps students get out of tough situations in places like the Sudan and come to the United States, Canada and Australia to go to high school and college. Through his basketball camps and foundation, he has helped place many young men in US colleges, playing basketball at all levels.

"His recruiting is steady. He is being recruited by Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Boston College and Georgia Tech. Stanford has also been recruiting him.

"He is great young man. He is a hard worker and a quiet kid. He has a nose for the ball and is a tough kid on the inside. Off the court he is a very good young man and a very good student. In college he will play the four. He is big and will be a power forward. He is a banger. He can knock down the mid-range shot. He has a spot-up jump shot, but he loves playing inside and he has some good inside moves."

With a long list of major colleges interested, and signing day coming soon, the expectation is the favorites list would be coming into focus and he would be taking official visits. In this case, there are a few wrinkles.

"He has done one official. He went to Harvard. He is leaning strong toward the academic situations. He is looking hard at that sort of environment. I doubt he will sign early. He has good grades and will score well on the NCAA scale, the sliding scale. He has to take his SAT and ACT to see exactly where he will fall. Once we get those scores then we will know where he stands there for Ivy League schools.

"Most of the kids who come from overseas, the math and science are a breeze and it is for Majok. But, the verbal is where things can be tough because of the language issue. Majok speaks and comprehends the English language very well. But, when you get into an exam environment and you are asked some obscure questions about vocabulary or analogies, then you never know how a kid will respond. In a test environment the pressure and environment can make it a little tougher."

The back story on Majok is fascinating. He is originally from Sudan, a country torn apart by war and sectarian violence. Majok has lost many close family members to the violence that has crippled his country. Coach Smith works overseas to help young men like Majok escape the violence and pursue a life abroad, getting an education and perhaps using basketball to make a better life.

"He is from the Sudan. I coached and worked with his cousin, Ater. Majok came over to here in 2008. He was at South Kent last year. This year he is at Northfield. For all of these kids, it is a big transition, but he has done very well. You also have to mention the parents too. It is an enormous sacrifice they make to allow their kids to come here. Majok now has a chance to go to Harvard and that is something special."

Coach Smith does not expect an early decision. Majok is taking his exams and that will determine how his recruiting develops. Of course, schools fill up and that will have an impact on his list of suitors. For now, the focus is on the SAT and ACT. After they get those results, they will begin to narrow things down.

Bill Plaidman can be reached at bplaidman@gmail.com

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