Bol Bol is perhaps the most intriguing high school basketball prospect in the country.
The son of former NBA player Manut Bol, Bol Bol is five inches shorter than his late father was, and he’s still 7-feet and 2-inches tall.
That frame also extends to a 7-foot-8 wingspan and 9-foot-7 standing reach, all extraordinary for players even at the very highest levels of competition.
Like many big men, Bol isn’t too keen on the idea of being a prototypical center and much more interested and comfortable playing facing the basket from the perimeter than he is inside on the post.
Fortunately, he’s uniquely skilled facing the basket with a very soft natural hands and touch that allow him to stretch the floor as a floor-spacer, throw soft passes, and even handle the ball some.
Physically, behind just his staggering measurements, Bol is also very agile for his size. He’s surprisingly fluid for someone with such massive limbs and plenty athletic when he wants to be with his ability to run the floor, play above the rim, and even show some mid-air body control.
His Achilles heel at the moment is his motor. His productivity has been undeniable in recent months – he averaged over 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks per game while shooting 43% from three, 67% from two, and 83% from the free-throw line last spring and summer while running with Cal Supreme in the Nike EYBL – and what is perhaps most amazing is that productivity comes with an often disinterested look on his face and inconsistent energy level.
It’s rare to see him truly sprint the floor, pursue a ball out of his area, or make multiple effort plays. He doesn’t yet like contact so he rarely goes through it and while he sometimes capable of going over it, he too often tries to go around him, contorting his body and double-clutching the way a man his size never should.
He has a similar habit of giving away some of his size even when shooting from the perimeter. In fact, he has a noticeably low release point that if he ever learned to consistently raise would make his shot almost un-block-able in just about any range (think Dirk Nowitiski-esque).
Defensively, his shot-blocking metrics are off the charts, and yet he’s probably the type of guy who could block 10 shots in a high school or AAU style game if he really wanted to.
Bol committed to the University of Oregon this fall, citing the plan of head coach Dana Altman to utilize him in various ways and not just as a prototypical big man.
I would like To thank everyone who recruited me. I had a tough decision to make. Today I would like to announce I have committed to Oregon https://t.co/kWOmpiKTt8 pic.twitter.com/cdyMrp5JQg
— Bol Bol (@bolmanutebol) November 20, 2017
That’s all well and good and probably the ideal approach to maximize his value and versatility, but his size and length make him most valuable around the rim, especially on the defensive end, and so the key will be finding a balance.
It would be foolish for any coach to not allow Bol to take advantage of his ball-skills facing the basket, especially in this day and age of pulling opposing shot-blockers away from the basket, but he’s going to need to continue to go inside as well and get more comfortable playing through contact on both ends of the floor.
There have actually been some encouraging signs in recent months. Bol, who transferred from Mater Dei High School in California to Findlay Prep in Nevada this fall, is showing a little more enthusiasm this winter. In fact, his performance at the recent HoopHall Classic in Massachusetts, arguably the premier high school showcase style event in the country, was incredibly impressive as he went for 31 points on 14-17 shooting from the floor.
However, if and when he ever answers those questions there isn’t a high school player in the country who has a more unique combination of attributes and maybe even a higher upside.