Monday, April 28, 2008

Majok commits, thanks largely to Hasheem

Hasheem Thabeet's decision to forego the NBA draft and return to UConn for his junior season has even more far-reaching benefits for the Huskies. A 7-foot-4 reach, to be exact.

Ater Majok, a 6-10 forward with a 7-4 wingspan, has verbally committed to UConn. And one of the main reasons is the chance to play with Thabeet for at least one year.

Thabeet, a native of Tanzania, hosted Majok, a Sudanese native who's lived in Australia for the past seven years, on the latter's official visit to Storrs last week. The two really hit it off well.

"They're from the same region of the world, so that was really good for him," said Edward Smith, Majok's coach/mentor. "They just spent some time talking together, going around campus, seeing classes, talking about the program and how (Thabeet) has progressed to where he is."

Majok and Thabeet also participated in some intense 3-on-3 pick-up games last week that lasted until midnight.

When Majok heard on Sunday that Thabeet would remain at UConn for another season, that cemented his decision to be a Husky. He was also being heavily recruited by Kentucky and Baylor, and was slated to visit UCLA before being wowed by his visit to UConn.

Smith, who coached Majok at the American International School in Sydney, describes Majok as a "three-four hybrid offensively, and a four-five defensively. He can back down the smaller defender, and he can stroke it from the outside, stretch the defense and make plays off the dribble."

The fact that Majok has played internationally, with a 3-point line who's distance is the same that will be instituted by the NCAA next season, should also help. He swished both his 3-pointers at the Derby Classic last week in Kentucky and raised a lot of eyebrows with his play, despite playing with a bruised foot.

Seems on the flight over from Australia, Majok fell asleep in his seat, stretched his long leg out into the aisle and a stewardess ran over it with a food cart. Those long legs may be a hindrance on an airplane, but they should be a big help to UConn next season.

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