Munuri admires Shaquille O'Neal

At Stanford, Trent Johnson had a reputation for signing big men in the paint and turning them into NBA players. Now that he has moved on to LSU, Johnson is looking to keep that reputation intact and he is hoping that 2009 prospect Bawa Muniru (7-0, 255) will help him accomplish that.

Bawa Muniru


Muniru, who is a native of Guinea in West Africa, played three years of ball at Madison Academy in Madison (Ala.) where he averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks a game as a junior.


He moved to the U.S. the summer before his freshman year of high school and he has been asked many times of what prompted his move to America.


“It was the education and to get the opportunity to play basketball since I was blessed with height,” explained Muniru. “I didn’t really play any organized basketball before I got here and I was just learning how to dribble the ball when I had the opportunity to come.”


Despite the fact that  he has only played organized basketball for three years, Muniru has attracted interest from some of the country’s top programs with more sure to come.


“My first offer was from Georgia State followed by Tulsa, USC and Tulane all before I went to that tournament,” said Muniru, who is trying to decide which prep school he will attend for his senior year since he is too old (19) to play at Madison Academy. “Now, I have LSU, Oklahoma State and Louisville. Then UCLA and Duke are talking to my coaches but they haven’t offered me yet.”


The LSU staff evaluated Muniru at the Kentucky HoopsFest last week and it didn’t take long for the coaches to show their level of interest.


Little did LSU assistant coach Donnie Guerinoni know but he already had an inside angle with Muniru before the two ever talked and the connection was with former LSU star Shaquille O’Neal.


“I always liked him (Shaq) because he was a big man who played the post and was one of the best post players in the league,” Muniru said. “Now, Dwight Howard is my role model but before him I always wanted to be like Shaq and dominate the game like Shaq. For some reason I didn’t even know that Shaq went to LSU but then I saw some kind of highlight on ESPN that made me wonder.


“Then when they started to recruit me and they said Shaq went to LSU I was like ‘oh yea’ I can’t wait to meet Shaq one day,” Muniru added with a big laugh.


Muniru was no stranger to Johnson and Guerinoni as he followed them while they were at Stanford and he knows the type of success the two had out West.


“When I called them we talked about how they were from Stanford and they had the Lopez twins (Brook and Robin),” said Muniru. “I watched them out there and I like their system because I’m a big guy and I’m ready to go to work in the post. I see that they like to bring the ball into the post and I think that would be a good fit for me as of now.”


Muniru said that he plans to visit LSU before he makes a decision on his future and right now the Tigers are sitting in a good spot with the big man.


“If I had to name a favorite taking my style of play into consideration and LSU’s style of play then I’d have to say I like LSU right now,” he said. “That could change in the future but right now I like LSU so far.”


Note: We spoke with Bawa’s guardian, who is also the girls’ basketball coach at Madison Academy, and he gave us some insight into the big man’s game.


“Bawa has a lot of power in his game and his god-given stature allows him to do a lot,” said Brian Privett. “We’re excited to see him play against guys his size because we feel like he is strong enough to go up against anybody.


“The power he brings around the basket and the skill he’s added to be able to score a little bit away from the basket has really added a lot to his game. He’s always going to be able to drop-step two-hand power dunk on someone but playing against his size he has to have a little shot to go with it and that’s what he’s developed.”

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