Majok back in the US, may delay decision

When college basketball's early signing period began on Nov. 14, Ater Majok received letter of intent forms from Maryland and Baylor. The period ends on Nov. 21 and the next opportunity to sign is in the spring.

So Majok, who committed to Baylor in August and de-committed shortly after, has a decision to make, and fast.

"It's close," said Edward Smith, Majok's coach in Australia. "It's going to be in the next week—or next couple days here—to decide whether he's going to sign early, whether he's not. He's leaning more towards April at this stage."

Majok, who lives in Australia, came back to the states with Smith on Nov. 8 and will be here through Dec. 16. He is playing with Virginia's Heat Basketball Academy, which is participating in a tournament at Progressive Christian Academy this weekend. In Majok's first action with the team Friday night, he had 7 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Smith, the director of Next Level Sports Inc. in Australia, is a Montgomery County, Md., native who serves as a coach and talent scout in Australia. Majok, who is 19 now, met Smith through a cousin in Australia at 15 years old and began working with him on basketball.

Smith is guiding Majok through the recruiting process here in the states and played a big role in establishing the connection between the 6-foot-10, 215-pound Sudanese refugee and Maryland.

Smith had a nephew on the Georgetown basketball team when current Terps assistant Chuck Driesell was a recruiting coordinator there from 2003-04. After Dreisell became familiar with Smith's program, he contacted Smith about Majok. The two exchanged e-mails and Driesell saw Majok for the first time in the summer.

Majok's rapid devlopment—he played soccer before focusing on basketball only four years ago—is attracting a bevy of college suitors. So much so, Majok wants to see more. He plans to take his remaining three official visits in addition to the ones he took to Maryland and Baylor, which is the main reason for his decision to wait until the spring.

"It's depending who comes up," said the soft-spoken Majok. "Whoever comes up, I'll probably take a visit."

College basketball in America is all new to Majok, too. Just the other night he watched an ESPN feature on Memphis coach John Calipari, and one of Calipari's messages intrigued Majok.

"If you were only a post up and a screen guy, don't come here. I want guys who can play and be versatile," Smith remembers Calipari saying.

"I like that coach," Majok said.

"He's just like a kid in a candy store," Smith said. "He has to get a feel for [college basketball in America]. I think that's the most important thing for us."

Majok is beginning to understand some of the nuances of making a college commitment, Smith said. Instead of signing early and being locked into a school, Majok would rather wait and see if a team's coach moves on or its players enter the NBA draft. He also wants to see what schools continue to pursue him as a test of loyalty.

What he has seen so far he's liked. He was so taken by a visit to Baylor that he committed there, perhaps a bit impulsively. Then he took a visit to Maryland for Maryland Madness and, as a bonus, got to see the Terps' practice the next day.

"Maryland's a great place. I like it," Majok said. "Midnight Madness was one of the best events that I've been to. I kind of got a feel of what games are normally like."

"The difference between Baylor and Maryland in terms of where Maryland had the edge on it was that he actually got a chance to see a Maryland practice with Gary Williams on the floor," Smith said. "He got a chance to see that and that's why his lean was so strong."

Majok did not verbally commit to Maryland on his visit, Smith said. Since then, the Terps have picked up commitments from two other big men—Gus Gilchrist and Jin Soo Kim. However, that won't have much of an affect on Majok's decision—"I think he'll find a way on the floor. He's not afraid of competition," Smith said.

Majok describes himself as a "3/4" who can shoot over a similarly-sized defender and post up smaller defenders. On Friday, he showed a nice touch around the basket and quick footwork that reflects his soccer days.

Majok trains with the West Sydney Razorbacks, an Australian professional team. He does not play with the team because it would compromise his NCAA eligibility. Smith said Majok has been offered pro contracts overseas, but his intentions are to play college basketball.

Smith also said Majok is "ahead of the game" in terms of qualifying.

Smith, whose allegiances rest with Maryland and Georgetown, has been careful not to sway Majok into a college decision. He will answer questions Majok has about schools and will accompany him on visits, but when it comes time for a decision, it's out of his hands.

"It's his future, it's his life," Smith said. "So I can't [make his decision] at the end of the day."

As of right now, Majok and Smith have not planned any other visits while they're in the states. It is uncertain where and when he will take his official visits.

TSR will keep you updated as Majok's recruitment continues…


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