Cyr Malonga turned in one of the most productive summers of any big in the 2023 class and as a result is reaping the benefits of having a “who’s who” list of college coaches in constant pursuit.
That said, if he keeps up his dominance on the soccer field, as an all-everything athlete, he may have to decide between poster dunks and penalty kicks.
“He’s very good at soccer, that was his first sport,” said Evangel Christian School (Louisville, Ky.) athletic director Brandon Bender, who played basketball overseas. “But he’s 6-foot-11 ½ and he’s got special potential on the court. There’s no denying that.”
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Roughly three years ago, Malonga, then a soccer star in his home city of Pointe-Noire, the second largest city in the Republic of Congo, tried basketball for the first time.
“I’ve loved it ever since,” Malonga said.
His production this summer in Nike EYBL with Team Thad (Tenn.), averaging 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks a game, has made him a commodity for 2023 with Memphis, Michigan, Illinois, Duke, Kentucky, Florida State, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Western Kentucky, UNLV, Mississippi State and Georgetown, among others, are all giving chase.
“It’s exciting to get to meet the coaches and have them recruit me,” Malonga said. “I want to be somewhere that I’m able to run the floor, finish plays, get rebounds and block shots. A lot of coaches say I remind them of DeAndre Ayton.”
High praise for a player who only picked up a basketball three years ago.
Still, Malonga said the comparisons only fuel his drive to improve every aspect of his game.
“I work hard to be the best player I can be,” Malonga said. “I feel like I can be a lot better. I’m already preparing for the next level.”
Malonga’s emergence as a star in the 2023 class could potentially speed up the process of when those skills will be on display at said level.
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“He’ll make a decision on whether he’ll reclassify to 2022 or not in the spring,” Bender said. “He’s an amazing student with a 3.8 GPA, so he’s going to be OK there. It’s all about whether he feels it’s the right time and how he’s developing.”
Malonga’s already taken unofficial visits to Michigan, Memphis and Oral Roberts, he’s scheduled to be at Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness and is planning a visit to Duke “soon.”
“I’m having fun getting to know the coaches and just talking to them,” Malonga said. “I want to be at the school that is the best fit for me and play for a coach that really sees what I can do.”