NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Bol Bol is not the only son of a former NBA player on his AAU team here at the Nike Peach Jam.
Shareef O’Neal, son of former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, also plays for Cal Supreme, one of the teams on the Nike circuit.
Whereas Shaq was on hand Wednesday night watching his son, Manute Bol passed away in 2010. Yet his son, who stands 7-foot-2 and attends Mater Dei (Calif.) High School, is used to the comparisons based on his name and his game. Like his father, Bol likes to shoot the 3-point shot, and also likes to block shots.
“It’s a lot of pressure but throughout time I’m used to it,” the younger Bol said of living up to his father’s name
Ranked No. 4 in the ESPN.com Class of 2018 rankings, Bol Bol was named the MVP of the Nike EYBL regular season after averaging 24.1 points, 10 rebounds and 4.5 blocks while shooting 49 percent from deep and leading his team to a 13-3 record.
Not surprisingly, he is the subject of a blueblood recruiting rush with Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and USC among the schools involved.
“I’m going to probably start taking visits after Peach Jam,” he said, adding that he plans to visit Arizona, Kentucky and Oregon. “I haven’t set up the rest of my visits yet. I think I’ll take at least three [visits], I don’t know about five.”
He added: “I’m definitely open, I don’t have my mind made up on school.”
On Wednesday night, Arizona coach Sean Miller, Kentucky’s Kenny Payne, and Oregon’s Mike Mennenga were among those watching him.
Bol said he has “good contact” with the Arizona staff. “We keep in good touch.”
As for Oregon, “It’s like really close, so that’s a good visit to take.”
In terms of Kentucky, Bol is still considering the Wildcats despite a unique situation last month where he was cut by the USA U19 team coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari.
“It was very disappointing [to not make the team] because I just heard good things from [Calipari] and other people the whole weekend,” Bol said of the tryouts last month in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Bol will never know how the USA U19 team would have done at the FIBA U19 World Cup had he made the team. In Cairo, Egypt, the team lost to R.J. Barrett and Canada in the semifinals before finishing in third place.
Asked if he could have helped, he simply said, “Yeah.”
Still, he doesn’t hold any bitterness toward Calipari and Kentucky and is still considering UK among his list of colleges. Payne spoke with Bol after the cuts to clear the air.
“Yeah, he’s the one that told me that I should’ve made it, too,” Bol said.
“It wasn’t just [Calipari’s] fault, because as a coaching staff it’s the USA Basketball staff, so I don’t really blame him for not putting me on the team because he can’t officially decide everyone who’s on the team,” he added.
The U19 team did keep four high school players: Immanuel Quickley, Romeo Langford, Louis King and Cam Reddish. Three hold scholarship offers from Kentucky.
Asked if he thinks Kentucky has a recruiting edge with those players, he said, “I think it should a little bit, because they spent more time with Cal so they can build a closer relationship.”
Whether Manute Bol’s son winds up at Kentucky remains to be seen. Wherever he goes, his father’s name and game will follow him.
Adam Zagoria is a basketball insider who has run ZAGSBLOG.com since 2006. He is a college basketball contributor for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the co-host of The Four Quarters Podcast via VSporto.com, which is available via iTunes. Zagoria is also a contributor to The New York Times. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.