Home where the hoop is: Majok Majok creates magic in Melbourne

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Outperforming all expectations in his rookie year, Majok Majok says he's just getting started.

Finally breaking a five game losing streak last week, Melbourne United are confident they've got the right mix to head north on the NBL ladder. A big part of that mix, Sudanese-born man mountain Majok Majok. 

Signed as a bench rotation player, he was quickly promoted to starting centre. Just a year into his NBL career, Majok Majok has shown he's worth every inch.

Born in Rumbek, South Sudan, the 206cm player came to Australia as an eight-year-old but he said he's never forgotten his roots.

"My mum always tells me try and remember where you come from."

"My mum always tells me try and remember where you come from, and appreciate where you come from it will make things much easier for you in life. So when I go home we try and speak as much Dinka as possible so we don't forget it."

An appreciation that covers four continents so far, making home where the hoop is.

Not long into his Australian high school education, Majok was poached by a US high school team and funnelled into college basketball in Indiana for Ball State University.

His performance on the court had the recruiters circling, but he admits basketball wasn't his sport of choice.

"Growing up I was a big soccer fan, that's all I did, soccer, soccer soccer. But then in high school someone said 'Why you playing soccer? You should play basketball' and I thought maybe I'll give it a try and then it just went on from there."

And within five years, he was signing his first pro contract in Slovenia where he averaged 6.9 points per game and 6.2 rebounds.

But he got homesick.

2015 a slightly smaller Majok Majok gets his first NBL jersey
2015 a slightly smaller Majok Majok gets his first NBL jersey with Luol Deng
SBS


Majok jumped on a chance to return to Australia last year in the Melbourne United jersey, where coach Dean Demopoulos said he exceeded all expectations.

"He's a player you have to pay attention to. Rolling hard to the basket, he's a got a gift of coming up and setting multiple pick and rolls in a possession and rolling hard to the rim and defence has to play him."

In the league's top 10 for blocking and field goal percentage, Majok Majok is a key component of the Melbourne United line-up.

And at just 23-years-old, Coach Demopoulos said the sky's the limit.

"He'll probably go make more money and I think he'll just continue to grow and get better and better. And he's the type of player who'll play for as long as his body allows him to."

Majok makes an obvious impact on the court, but he said he's also conscious of the influence he has off it.

"A lot of the kids these days look up to guys like us playing in a professional league and if that keeps them off the street it's sort of great."

An opportunity, he hopes, like an NBA contract.

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