Mavunga, the 6'8 forward from Indiana, has narrowed down his list to two schools: Miami University and Indiana State. As Mavunga gets ready to take his official visits to the two schools, it appears the two horses are neck and neck as they stride towards the finish line.
"I think that Indiana State and Miami are tied," said Mavunga. "When I finish taking these visits I will sit down with my family and say ‘These are my notes. This is what I like, this is what I don't like,' and out of that I will make my decision."
According to Mavunga, he is scheduled to visit the RedHawks next weekend (Sept. 14-16) and the Sycamores the weekend after.
Oddly enough, it was a coaching change at both schools that caused the pair of programs to become co-front runners for the services of Mavunga. Just last week it was announced that Miami assistant coach Frankie Smith, who was in charge of recruiting Mavunga, was leaving to become the head coach at Saginaw Valley State. In the spring, former Creighton assistant Kevin McKenna filled Indiana State's head coaching vacancy.
The loss of Coach Smith has made Mavunga wonder if Miami can replace the man with whom he had become so close. Similarly, the addition of McKenna has made Mavunga recognize the options available to him in Terra Haute, Indiana.
"Frankie Smith is a very great guy," said Mavunga. "I love the way he came about me. When I was thinking about why I would want to commit there, I said ‘there's Frankie Smith.' But there's also Coach Pedon, Coach Coles, Coach Henderson. I think I was almost ready to commit there. But it's like a puzzle. One of the bigger people in the puzzle is no longer there. So now it's like: What can they do to make up for that? What can I find to fill the missing piece of the puzzle?"
Added Mavunga, "I wasn't very sure about Indiana State at all, even though they were the second offer I ever had. I wasn't sure they way they were going with their old coach. When Coach McKenna came over, it opened my eyes that they are going in the right direction."
Whichever school lands Mavunga will be getting a player with great potential. He has only been playing organized basketball for a handful of years. However, he is becoming a polished low block scorer and a tenacious rebounder in that time.
In fact, his rapid progression into big time prospect has given Mavunga a new favorite word: upside.
"Upside is my number one thing, and I hear it from a lot of people," said Mavunga. "I look at how good I've become since freshman year until now, and I think about what I can do the next four years in terms of progression."
With the visits on the horizon, Mavunga will be looking to separate the two schools atop his list. Those needs go well beyond the court. Mavunga is looking for academics, comfort, and camaraderie, to go along with his desire to play high level college basketball.
Oh, and if Mavunga is caught analyzing just about everything both schools have to offer, the programs need not worry. That's just how he plans on making up his mind.
"When I go on a visit," says Mavunga. "I always say ‘I like this' or ‘I don't like that.' I want the school with the least amount of things I don't like. I'm not going to be at school for just one year for basketball. I'm going to school for at least 4 years. I want to feel comfortable so when I get there I can say ‘I'm going to do something!'"
While Mavunga figures out where he wants to do something, those programs will do everything they can to make him feel like their school is the school Mavunga wants.
Until then, it's down to two horses, and it's anybody's race as they come down the stretch.