Two years this weekend ago in Colorado Springs a tall, thin, talented teenager suffered the first, but not worst, adverse day of his basketball life.
Bol Bol was among the final cuts from the USA Under 19 World Cup team.
Then, last Dec. 12, in the ninth game of the Oregon season, the 19-year-old Ducks center and leading scorer (21-point average), rebounder (9.6) and shot-blocker (2.7) sustained a left foot stress fracture. His college career was over.
And on Thursday night, Bol, who had been projected at one time to be drafted as high as No. 5, plummeted to 44th.
He was chosen by the Heat, who earlier in the evening had dealt their second pick to the Nuggets for a future second-round pick and cash. Neither team knew who will be available at the slot.
For the third time in two drafts, an exceptional professional prospect with injury issues fell out of the sky and into the Nuggets' possession.
Maybe the disappointments in the Springs, Eugene, Oregon, and Brooklyn are behind, and the Sudanese-American will find home and hope here.
Yet, Bol Manute Bol's sadness over the death in 2010 of his basketball idol, role model and father, Manute Bol, always endures. His famed dad, one of the two tallest NBA players, at 7-foot-7, and most proficient shot-blockers ever, never saw Bol play or grow up to be 7-3 and follow his lead of being drafted into the league.
The younger Bol, born in Khartoum, Sudan, in November 1999, was named in honor of his great-grandfather Bol Chol Bol, a Dinka tribal chief who stood 6-10, weighed over 300 pounds and had 15 wives and 48 children.
According to studies, the Dinkas of a southern Sudan swampland, are the tallest, on average, men and women of the world.
Nine Sudanese players have reached the NBA. Bol, who believes he will be next, declared months ago he should go in the top three. Thirty-one teams disagreed, and the No. 2 high school player in the country didn’t get a sniff until the Nuggets' brain trust did a leap of faith and fate.
But, then, Nikola Jokic, was passed over until 41st in 2014, and Michael Porter Jr. tumbled from first five to 14 last year.
Could so many others be wrong, and could it be that all three play together someday?
The 7-1 Shaquille O'Neal, asked before the draft by website complex.com who would be his college player if he were building a franchise, passed on Zion Williams, saying: "Believe or not, I'd go with Bol Bol," who played AAU ball with O’Neal’s son Shareef.
"I’ve seen the potential of what this kid can do. He’s 7-6 (sic). He can shoot, dribble, pass. Nobody knows it because he was hurt all the time."
Shake Shaq. Bol is more about rebounding and blocking shots, although he can shoot treys and run the floor. Look at YouTube.
His athleticism is a result of when Bol was considerably shorter in elementary school, and he played point guard. But, by the eighth grade, Bol had sprouted to 6-5. He has a 7-8 wingspan, but still thinks he’s a long-ranger. He converted 52.1 percent beyond the arc in his brief stint at Oregon.
Bol has come a long way, just as his dad did. Manute was a cow caretaker as a kid, then departed home and was talked into trying basketball. Playing for a military team, Manute was discovered by a visiting former college coach. He came to America and spent a year at Division II Bridgeport averaging 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.1 blocks. In June 1985, Manute also was drafted in the second round (31st overall) by Washington. He blocked 397 shots as a rookie and spent 12 seasons with 2,086 blocks and four franchises.
Bol donated most of his NBA income (approximately $3.5 million) to causes in warn-torn Sudan and returned home when his playing career concluded.
He married a second time to Ajok Kuag, and Bol Bol was their first of four children. The family escaped to Egypt and six months later was given refugee status by the U.S. They lived in Connecticut until Bol Bol was 7, then moved to Olathe, Kansas, which had a sizable number of Sundanese expatriates.
The elder Bol died in 2010 from kidney failure and a severe skin infection he contracted in Sudan.
Bol Bol played one season in junior high hoops (and was offered a scholarship by New Mexico) and another on the junior varsity. His mother took Bol to California, then Las Vegas.
Bol Bol made a name for himself.
His McDonald’s All-American selection led to the invitation to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center and World Cup team tryouts. Bol survived the first cut from 28 to 21, but coach John Calipari, and the selection committee chose only 12 players — including seven who were drafted last year or this (before Bol) — Bol was not included.
In the Springs, Bol was saddened and angry, particularly because the World Cup site was Cairo, his former temporary home.
Kentucky had appeared to be one of two finalists for Bol, but because of the Springs snub, the center of attention decided on the Ducks.
Now, Bol seeks, he said draft night, "to prove everybody wrong," except, obviously the Nuggets and Shaquille.
BasketBol is back in Colorado.