About 180 miles southeast of Lexington in the Appalachian hills lives a giant of a child.
He’s 7-feet-3-inches tall, 230 pounds, 17 years old.
And, yes, he knows his way around a basketball gym.
Right now, he is little known on the U.S. high school basketball scene, but by next year, will likely be one of America’s most highly-recruited high school players.
Bol Kuir is a junior at Belfry High near Pikeville.
Can he play basketball? How about 17 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks a game?
In a double-overtime 78-77 win this season against Lawrence County (Louisa), he grabbed 42 rebounds (second-most ever in Kentucky high schools – behind only the 48 by Sam Milton of Fredonia in 1957). In the same game, Kuir got 25 points and eight blocks.
In another game against Floyd Central, he scored 32 points, got 15 rebounds, had four assists and five blocks.
Kuir is in his first full season of basketball, starring in soccer in his native South Sudan before coming to America last year. His stats got better as this season progressed, despite often being double and triple-teamed.
“He is a great shooter and passer,” said Coach Thompson, a UK grad and veteran of 24 years of high school coaching (with 12 years at Belfry, where he also serves as the vice-principal).
Kuir has even canned a trio of three-pointers this season.
His team won the 60th District title last week and is playing this week in the 15th Region tournament, hoping for a berth in the Sweet 16 state tournament.
“He moves well, runs well. His upside is unreal,” Belfry head coach Mark Thompson recently told MaxPreps. “I have never had an NBA player, but he has what I would consider NBA skills. His range and touch are impressive and he’s still just a junior.”
Will Kentucky recruit the rising Bluegrass star? He actually took an unofficial visit to Lexington back in November of 2019, so there’s some level of interest there...
Another young basketball giant lives just north of Kentucky.
Now only 16 years old, Robert Bobroczky is the second-tallest basketball player in the world and taller than anyone currently in the NBA.
The 7-foot-7, 190-pound Romanian made his American debut for SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio) in a recent game, playing limited minutes in an 87-51 loss to First Love Christian Academy (Washington, Pa.).
After his brief first outing, it became apparent Bobroczky, unlike Kuir, has a lot of developing to do, but he’s got time to get there.
(Ken Mink is a former Herald-Leader sportswriter and has spent more than 60 years as a journalist/author, He grew up in Vicco, near Hazard).