Video: The Trees of Greenforest
Georgia program features three 7-footers.
In recent seasons, the Greenforest (Decatur, Ga.)
high school basketball team has produced a number of Division I prospects via the school's foreign exchange program.
Over the past five years, 7-footer Ikey Obiagu (Seton Hall sophomore), Victor Enoh (Marist junior), Luis Hurtado (UAB sophomore), Abayomi
Iyiola (Stetson sophomore), Precious Ayah (Miami-Ohio junior), John
Ogwuche (Kennesaw State senior) and Mohammed Abdulsalam (UNC-Greensboro
sophomore) have all gone through the program.
"Traditionally we are known for our foreign exchange program," Greenforest head coach Rory Griffin said. "Internationally, once you get a reputation like that your phone never stops ringing. It has gotten to the point where we have to start turning people away because we only have so many scholarships."
The international influence has given Greenforest plus-sized rosters in the past and this year is no different with 6-foot-11 senior Christian Fussell
and a pair of freshmen from South Sudan topping the 7-foot mark: Gai Chol
and Madelo Deng
, who is listed at 7-3.
"I was in contact with my friend who told me that he had a pair of kids he wanted me to bring in," Griffin said of Chol and Deng. "He told me that he didn't know if the kids can play, but they are tall and never stop talking about playing basketball."
Griffin detailed a unique camp in South Sudan that helped put Chol on the map.
"Camp Impact is something that young kids put together themselves, without any organized coaching," Griffin said. "The kids coach each other and try to make one another better with hope that one day one of them might make it out. It's pretty special."
Griffin has high expectations for Chol, in particular.
"Gai Chol is the best freshman in the country," Griffin said. "He has a very high motor, he's always in control and he is highly skilled. A lot of people think his game is raw, but it is actually very polished and advanced for a freshman. He can shoot from mid-range to beyond the arc and has a violent post game that almost always results in a basket. His upside is through the roof."
Deng is still learning the game as he had never played any form of organized basketball before coming to the United States.
"He's always where he needs to be defensively and he knocked down a few turn around jump shots in our opening game against Pebblebrook," Griffin said.
Fussell, a Middle Tennessee commit, is the team's offensive leader and provides an experienced paint presence.
Greenforest opened its season over the weekend with a 49-40 win over state title contender Pebblebrook.