Bol Bol had to wait even longer than Michael Porter Jr. did last year to hear his name called. Now they get to be teammates.
The Nuggets acquired Bol, the former Bishop Miege standout from Olathe, through a trade with Miami, after the Heat selected Bol, a 7-2 center, with the No. 44 pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
Bol spent the better part of his first two seasons of high school basketball at Bishop Miege before going to California for his last two years. He played part of this last college basketball season at Oregon. A foot injury ended his season and helped drive some questions heading into Thursday’s draft. Many analysts had him going in the top 20, while others had expected his stock to fall.
“It was a little rough at first,” Bol said of waiting for his name to be called in the draft.
Considered a contender for the top pick in the draft before the season, Bol played just nine games for Oregon and saw his college career end early after injuring his foot. Bol shot 52 percent on three-pointers and had a nearly 10-foot reach, which was intriguing enough for Denver to make him its second rehab project alongside Porter. Bol said on Wednesday that his foot has healed and he has been able to work out the past month, but left his chances of playing in summer league in the hands of the Nuggets.
The selection capped an amateur career for Bol that started when he was 14 years old. At that point, videos emerged on social media of former NBA center Manute Bol’s son. Bol is only a few inches shorter than his father, who played at 7-foot-6. Bol Bol admitted that the spotlight he dealt with as a young player had its pros and cons, giving him notoriety, but also putting him under a lot of pressure.
“Everyone already knows you, but it could be a bad thing because some people get caught up in the rankings,” he said. “To me, I tried to ignore all that stuff.”
A five-star recruit out of high school, Bol was considered a top-five talent in the draft, given his size and shooting ability, but red flags appeared with teams over his effort and potential injury history. Foot and leg injuries are common for players who are Bol’s size and are also concerning, as very tall players such as Yao Ming had to retire early because of chronic injuries.
Bol said on Wednesday that he felt like he addressed the questions about his passion and interest in the game from how he handled his injury, because he’s never had to sit out so long before.
“I really, really love playing basketball,” Bol said. “I only played nine games, sitting out the rest of the season showed me how much I really love the game. Because it was taken away from me.”