Legend of Bol Bol chronicled in SI

By Steve Sell
July 18, 2017

Tuesday’s thoughts...

• BOL’S LEGEND GROWING — The last time McPherson High basketball fans saw Bol Bol in person, he was a rail-thin 6-11 center masquerading as a shooting guard.

Bol was a sophomore at Bishop Miege and in the fourth quarter of the tense Class 4A Division I championship game in 2016 against McPherson High at Salina’s Bicentennial Center, Bol stood about 25 feet away from the basket and slung a 3-pointer that was nothing but net to tie the game at 54-54.

That dagger provided the impetus for the Stags to go on a run and defeat the Bullpups 69-59 for the championship despite a combined 45 points from the brothers Pyle, Ben (23) and Drew (22). MHS was going for its third state title in a row.

Bol, son of the late Manute Bol who was a longtime NBA player known mostly for being 7-7, would never lace up his sneakers again for the Stags. For whatever reason, he left Miege and headed to California, playing last year for highly acclaimed Mater Dei High School, which has produced some NBA players.

The Bol story is fascinating and in the most recent issue of Sport Illustrated, his saga was detailed.

Since playing against the Bullpups, Bol has continued to heighten as he now tops out at 7-3.

Normally 7-3 guys (with a 7-8 to 7-10 wingspan) hover around the basket, but Bol is comfortable avoiding contact. His father’s career evolved that way, as he became known more for his 3-point shooting than scoring around the basket.

Bol Square has risen to the No. 2 senior recruit in the country by one reputable scouting service and reportedly has been offered a scholarship already by KU, Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA and USC.

Who knows how Bol’s game will transition at the next level. When he was at Miege, there were instances where he didn’t even make it across halfcourt, content with staying on the defensive end where he’s a menacing presence.

Even without Bol, Miege won the state championship this past season, again defeating McPherson in the championship game. Given what both teams have coming back, don’t be surprised if another meeting is in the offing. Miege lost some great players, but I’m sure there will be an influx of “newcomers.”

• ROYALS REELING — After a stretch where they won 18 of 24 to be at the center of postseason playoff talk, you knew the Kansas City Royals would come back to earth.

And they’ve landed with a thud.

The Royals of the last seven games are strikingly similar to the Royals of April when they went 7-16 and put themselves behind the playoff 8-ball.

To their credit, that hot stretch vaulted them back into the race. But just as all their hitters got hot at the same time to lead the big push, they’ve all gone cold at the same time.

KC has scored 16 runs in the last seven games, all losses except for one when the blinding sun saved them. To boot, top pitchers Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas pitched four of those games.

The bloom is coming off the Vargas rose. His control has gone haywire and now his soft stuff is little more than batting practice. Duffy has pitched well, but gets no support.

The Royals are in the midst of an important 10-game homestand, but just 1-3 so far. Maybe the players are feeling the pressure of the upcoming trade deadline, but to me it looks like they’ve gone back to swinging for the fences instead of their “frenzied hitting” that is their trademark.

KC still has two automatic outs in its lineup as Alex Gordon and Brandon Moss show no signs of getting to the .200 mark. Gordon’s contract is going to wind up being an albatross around this team’s neck. KC’s not getting much return on its 4-year, $72 million deal that has two more years to go after this one.