It’s all coming together on the basketball court for Mutdung Bol.
Since debuting at the varsity level two years ago as a skinny and talented freshman with a nice jump shot, the ultra-athletic Edmonds-Woodway guard has expanded his game and developed into an NCAA Division I prospect.
Bol has established himself as one of the area’s premier prep basketball players, averaging 19.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per contest in a standout junior campaign.
“This is the year I think I’m breaking out (and) putting all the pieces together,” he said.
Never was that more evident than during his performance against Arlington earlier this month, when he totaled an eye-popping 38 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals while carrying the Warriors to a 74-71 win over one of the top teams in Wesco 3A/2A.
“When he gets going from all three levels, he’s impossible to stop,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Robert Brown said. “He can get to the rim (and) his mid-range jump shot is great. And then when he gets going from 3-point range, he’s close to unguardable at this level of basketball. … He’s really special at scoring.”
Bol’s elite talent has caught the attention of college programs. This past summer, the 6-foot-3 recruit received Division I scholarship offers from Big Sky Conference programs Eastern Washington and Portland State. Other schools also have shown interest, Brown said.
“He’s starting to get up on everybody’s radar now,” Brown said. “And he (still) has another year of high school, which is crazy.”
Bol said his inspiration on the hardwood stems from his family’s background and the struggles his parents experienced halfway around the globe in Africa.
Before Bol was born, his parents fled war-torn South Sudan and moved to the United States to create a new life for their family. South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011, recently suffered through a devastating five-year civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and left millions displaced, according to The Associated Press.
“That impact of what my parents went through and what others are going through right now inspires me to work hard,” Bol said. “My dream would be to go to the NBA or get to a level where I can have a really big impact on those who are struggling in those areas, or just anybody who’s struggling — (to) help them out so they can live a better life.”
For the past few years, Bol has lived with current Edmonds-Woodway assistant coach Michael Richards and his family. The two first met when Bol was a fourth-grader attending a Boys & Girls Club clinic run by Richards. Richards began coaching Bol in sixth grade, and the two formed a bond.
“The more I was helping him, the more information that he wanted to (learn) from me,” Richards said. “… And at the same time, he was hanging around my family, so he was just around a lot.”
Richards became Bol’s legal guardian when he was in eighth grade.
“His parents are great people,” Richards said. “It just kind of came down to what was going to be best for him. His parents and I talked and just thought it’d be best for him to (live with my family). He still speaks with them. He’s not out of touch or anything like that. It just kind of turned out to be that way.”
“It was a better environment for me to be better as a person and better as a basketball player,” Bol said of living with Richards’ family. “… I’m just blessed to have met him (and have him) in my life. Words can’t explain how grateful I am.”
As a wiry freshman on the Edmonds-Woodway varsity team two years ago, Bol leaned on his smooth jump shot and basketball intelligence to compensate for a physical disadvantage against older and bigger opponents.
“He was 98 pounds soaking wet as a freshman, and he (was) playing varsity basketball,” Brown said. “His body has (since) filled out, but his intelligence was already a step above everybody else when he first got on the varsity court, so his mind was already varsity basketball-ready. His basketball IQ is ahead of everybody he plays against.”
Since then, Bol has added strength and expanded his game to become an all-around player. Part of Bol’s training included 5 a.m. workouts three mornings a week with Richards and Richards’ nephew, Erroll, a senior on the E-W team.
Bol’s hard work and supreme athleticism have been on display this season with accurate outside shooting, highlight-reel dunks, acrobatic finishes in the paint, massive blocks, strong rebounding and more.
“He’s always been able to shoot fairly well,” Richards said. “Now he’s developing his game going to the basket, becoming a playmaker and helping other people get involved.”
“He knows he’s slight of build, so he’s not running in there jumping into contact,” Brown added. “But his ability to play with more physicality … has been huge.”
Richards described Bol as a “tape junkie” who frequently watches basketball YouTube videos of his favorite NBA players, which include Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and Seattle native Jamal Crawford, who starred at Rainier Beach High School and currently plays for the Phoenix Suns.
Bol was one of 30 high school players from around the state invited to participate in an elite basketball camp hosted by Crawford this past Labor Day weekend. Bol said he’s conversed with Crawford on Twitter, and that the 19-year NBA veteran has shared advice with him.
“He’s really humble and modest about what he does, helping the community out,” Bol said. “He’s a really good guy, and that’s (why) I try to take after him.”
Brown described Bol as having some of those same qualities.
“Mutdung is just a great kid,” Brown said. “He has been a leader as soon as he stepped on campus. He’s one of those kids that everybody kind of loves. Kids just follow him — he just has that kind of personality. He’s always smiling, always happy, upbeat. He’s a selfless kid, a team-first kid always.
“There’s not enough good things to say about him.”