Who is Makol Mawien, and why does the commitment he made to attend the Utah Utes basketball program on Thurs. Aug. 7 matter so much? Even Sports Illustrated gave Mawien front page pub, putting his grainy cell phone picture and adjoining story on its Web page with the likes of Tiger and LeBron.
That's big news for a kid like Mawien--who now has something to tell his grandkids, even if he never makes it big. But, Mawien is big himself: he is a 6-foot-9-inch, 200-pound native of Egypt who moved to Utah at age three with his family, yet he's still very raw.
He doesn't have many go-to offensive skills, according to those who know him. He can not wow you with extreme Andrew Wiggins-like athleticism as he soars into the air, delivering a backboard-shattering dunk--because he can't do that if he wanted to.
Mawien also can't step up from behind the three-point line, a la 6-9 No. 2 NBA draft pick Jabari Parker, and swish long jumpers--but the Granger High star is working on his set shot from 15 feet in.
What Mawien can do better than most prospects though, is play shut-you-down defense against nearly anyone who dares enter his space. And so, the defense he plays close to the rim--as seen in this mixtape at 1:06--almost looks effortless to him.
It's the reason Gonzaga laid a full court press on Mawien this year--hoping to lure him to Spokane--and it's the reason why an in-state school like Utah State and legendary coach Stew Morrill did everything it could to get him to come to Logan.
In the end though, Mawien settled on playing at Utah and for former big man turned Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak, who Mawien believes can take his skills to the next level. "I think he [Krystkowiak] knows a lot of what I can do," Mawien said in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. "He's given me a lot of tips, like facing up and taking hook shots. That's one of the things I like about Utah."
Mawien will be the second player in the class of 2015 who comes from a school on the West side of Salt Lake City--Hunter star guard Noah Togiai is the other. The 2015 arrivals of both Mawien and Togiai also carry another distinction. They will be the first products from a West side high school to play for the Utes since former Cyprus Pirates standout Tre Smith played for former Utah coach Jim Boylen several years ago.
Mawien, who will be a senior at Granger this year, will be one of four in-state high school players joining the Utes basketball program in 2015.