In the late 1980s, Nike used the ad slogan, “It’s gotta be the shoes.”
But for Bol Bol, it is a matter of which shoes is it going to be. The five-star prospect and Findlay Prep (Nevada) senior boasts a collection of more than 200 shoes, which occupy three shoe closets at his home. Bol Bol has worn a different shoe for every game this season.
“I don’t know, I just like shoes, and I got a lot – all kinds,” Bol said Thursday. “No one is on my level with their shoe game.”
Bol said he doesn’t have a favorite shoe or style. But his shoe game should get even better next year when he heads to Oregon to play for the Ducks, which count Nike chairman Phil Knight as one of the school’s biggest donors. Bol loved Oregon for its style of play and everything about the campus. He raved about getting to go into the Knight Room, which had all the latest sneakers.
“I was going crazy in there, man. For a kid obsessed with shoes, that was like heaven,” Bol wrote in the Players Tribune when he announced his commitment to Oregon.
But shoes are not the reason fans are pouring into Richland Northeast High School for the Chick-fil-A Classic. Many of them are there to see Bol, the 7-foot-3 center and son of late NBA player Manute Bol.
A group of fans were chanting “We want Bol Bol” when the No. 4 prospect in ESPN’s Top 100 wasn’t in the starting lineup for Findlay’s game against Paul VI. Findlay Prep coach Paul Washington said it was a team decision not to start Bol.
But when Bol got in, he delivered. He scored six points in the first two minutes and finished with 24 in 15 minutes of action.
Bol is averaging 19.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this season for the Pilots, who are ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Super 25 poll.
“He is pretty efficient. To be 7-2 or 7-3 and be that skilled is rare,” Washington said. “He needs to improve on his motor. He has to have a desire to play defense as well as offense, and we are working on him.”
Bol, whose middle name is Manute, transferred to Findlay Prep from Mater Dei in California and said it has been an easy adjustment to his new teammates. He said his versatility and his ability to do a little of everything is the strength of his game, but he needs to get stronger.
Bol weighs about 225 pounds. He has a slender frame similar to that of his father, who died in 2010 of a rare skin infection at age 47.
But Bol’s game is different from his father’s. He can play outside or inside while his late father was known as a shot blocker. Manute Bol was 7-foot-7 and played 10 years in the NBA and was well known for his humanitarian efforts on behalf ofhis native Sudan.
Bol had a strong relationship with his father and spent time playing basketball with him. The younger Bol said his dad didn’t take it easy on him and was known to trash talk his son.
“He used to always beat me. I would just shoot it and he would block it,” Bol said. “My father was a great man, and I want to represent him and my family well.”