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At 23 years old, Orlando center Bol Bol finally has a consistent starting role, the first of his NBA career.
While New Orleans’ Zion Williamson is a 22-year-old MVP candidate and Jayson Tatum has been talked about as the future of the Celtics since he was 19, Bol didn’t generate the same kind of buzz early in his NBA career despite being a top high school recruit.
What took the 7-foot-2 Bol Bol so long to turn heads?
In 2018, ESPN ranked Bol Bol as the fourth-best high school player in the nation behind RJ Barrett, Williamson and Cam Reddish. He committed to Oregon and dominated for the Ducks.
Bol — son of the late NBA player Manute Bol — was on track to be a top 10 draft pick, averaging 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Most astonishingly, he shot 52% from long range. His 7-foot-8 wingspan and 9-foot-6 standing reach dazzled scouts.
The plan was for Bol to play one year in Eugene and jump to the NBA. But nine games into the season, he suffered a foot fracture, ending his college career.
Despite the stress fracture, many mock drafts, including those by Sports Illustrated and The Athletic, had Bol as a first-rounder in the 2019 NBA Draft.
On draft night, however, Bol plummeted to Miami with the 44th overall pick. Then the Heat traded the former Duck to the Nuggets. After being drafted, Bol told ESPN, “The wait is over. I just want to prove everyone wrong and come out and be the best player I can be.”
But the wait wasn’t over.
In his first three seasons with the Nuggets, Bol averaged 6.2 minutes in 53 games. Even in limited minutes, Bol showed glimmers of the talent that made him one of the more touted recruits in the nation.