South Sudan’s basketball federation confirmed to ESPN this week that an NBA Draft prospect who should be eligible for the 2025 class will be participating with them in the upcoming FIBA World Cup to be held in three different Asian nations. We are talking about 16-year-old Khaman Maluach, remember the name.
This makes the rising star the third-youngest athlete to ever participate in this international competition’s history, which started in 1950.
“Khaman’s future is bright; everyone sees that,” said Luol Deng, president of the South Sudan basketball federation. “He is going to be a great player and it’s exciting that people will get see him at the World Cup stage. This will be a great experience for him.”
Maluach, who already stands at seven-foot-two, has been a member of the NBA Africa Academy in Senegal for two years, right after he started taking basketball seriously while living in Uganda. At the start of August, he was celebrated as the MVP of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa camp.
“He has a great feel for the game,” the president told ESPN. “Good court awareness, amazing skill set. He has made a huge improvement. At the same time, he needs to improve on everything. Sharpen every part of his game, as you expect from a 16-year-old.
“That’s what makes him scary. He still has so much room to grow. But he has a great spirit, is always smiling and is hungry to learn. Everyone loves being around him, and that’s why it’s been so easy to welcome him into the team.”
Maluach has already recieved scholarship proposals from many important college programs in the United States
The young athlete, who is expected to graduate from high school in the summer of 2025, has already been contacted by colleges like UCLA, Duke and Georgetown with scholarship offers. The other option, if he’s good enough, is to be drafted directly to the NBA draft as an international prospect born in 2006.
“As someone that has known him since he was 11 years old, I want what’s best for him,” Deng assured. “The draft talk can come later. I don’t want him to worry about being the first player ever drafted directly from Africa. He should worry about being the best player he can first. I don’t want that pressure on a 16-year-old — that if he doesn’t live up to expectations people are down on him. I’ve seen that happen — projections happen — and it alters a player’s development.”
The FUTURE is NOW !!!! 🇸🇸
16-year-old 7’1 Khaman Maluach has been included in SSD final 12 as per FIBA website. pic.twitter.com/KUwPCI7Puf
— Awet Thon (@awetthon) August 24, 2023
Maluach will be wearing the South Sudan jersey in a historic moment, as its the country’s first appearance at a tournament held outside of Africa. They will fight for Group B’s first two slots against China, Puerto Rico and Serbia, which will be held in Manila, Philippines.
“It’s been a great journey,” Deng added. “Anyone who has love for the game will be excited to watch us. We’re a country on the rise. For our youth, it’s exciting to be here. Parents will be inspired to talk their kids about their country. We’re happy to be here and will do our best.”
Source: Basketball Insider