Bol Kong is finally a Zag.
Kong, a Sudanese native who has lived in Canada since the age of 7, is enrolled for classes at Gonzaga after recently obtaining Canadian citizenship and his student visa earlier this week, Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said.
The talented, 6-foot-7 forward orally committed to the Bulldogs’ basketball program in May 2008, roughly at the same time as fellow Zag Mangisto Arop, a native of Sudan who also settled in Canada at a young age.
But Kong’s status was in doubt – and the subject of endless Internet debate – as he worked through the immigration process for roughly the last 16 months. Arop’s paperwork apparently was already in order. Kong arrived in Spokane late Wednesday night, his first time on U.S. soil, and was on campus for classes Thursday, Roth said.
“We know it took quite a while and I’m not sure exactly when he started the process,” Roth said. “He did get his Canadian citizenship recently and that started a new set of balls rolling and he had to resubmit all of his visa information, which he did.
“Bol spent a tremendous amount of time making it happen.”
Roth said Elias Harris, a 6-7 forward who just finished playing for Germany at the European Championships, is expected to arrive in Spokane on Saturday, which would complete GU’s roster for the upcoming season.
Kong last played in an official game for Douglas College (British Columbia) in the 2007-08 season, helping the team win what is essentially the Canadian national championship. He sat out last season. From September to May, Kong worked out at Canada’s National Elite Development Academy (NEDA), practicing and living in the dorms alongside Arop and Gonzaga freshman forward Kelly Olynyk, but Kong wasn’t permitted to play in games.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few was out of town and unavailable for comment. Roth said the staff wants Kong to “get his feet on the ground” and become situated on campus before he’s made available to the media.
Kong, a sophomore in terms of eligibility, and Harris are expected to contribute this season for the Bulldogs, who lost five seniors and Austin Daye, who left school early for the NBA, from last year’s squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina.
Those familiar with Kong’s game describe him as a skilled, face-the-basket small forward who can score in a variety of ways. Since he hasn’t played in an official game since the end of the 2007-08 season, nobody is quite sure of his conditioning level or how polished he’ll be when Gonzaga opens practice next month.
“He’s been working with the academic folks, via the Internet and the university system, so he’s been keeping up class-wise,” Roth said. “Everything is good to go, and Elias has been doing the same thing (academically).”
Harris, who is from Speyer, Germany, played for Germany’s U-20 team at the European U-20 championships in July, averaging 14 points and 6.4 rebounds in five games. Harris also was selected for the German national team that competed at the European Championships in Poland. He averaged 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in roughly 12 minutes per game for Germany, which concluded play earlier this week.
Harris, who weighs 230 pounds, usually plays power forward but saw time at small forward at the European Championships.
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