Chol Marial is a 7-1 center who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2019 by ESPN.
He was born in Sudan, one of seven countries subject to Donald Trump’s temporary ban on the entry of non-U.S. citizens.
Marial, a Dinka tribesman like Manute Bol, grew up in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 and the majority of its people are Christians, not Muslims. It is unclear if South Sudanese born in Sudan before the split are subject to the ban.
Now in his second year at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, Marial came to the United States as an eighth-grader and enrolled at West Oaks Academy in Orlando. A middle-schooler by age, he played on the varsity team and became a YouTube sensation thanks to his massive size.
Marial, now 17, has dominated the New England prep basketball circuit since and his coach has said Marial could be the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He played last summer with the Connecticut Basketball Club on the Under Armour Association circuit.
Asked whether he was concerned about how the president’s executive order could impact Marial, Cheshire coach Kevin Kehoe told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday: “Why would I be worried? I live in the United States of America.”
Kehoe pointed to the federal judge’s ruling in New York that blocked part of the executive order, preventing authorities from removing individuals from the seven countries who had arrived in airports in the U.S. after the executive order was issued.
“What Donald Trump signed has nothing to do with Chol Marial,” Kehoe said. “As much as people don’t want to believe it this is still a democracy. It’s not a dictatorship. Donnie can sign whatever he wants, but this is still the United States of America.”
Marial and Cheshire will be back on the court Wednesday against The MacDuffie School (Granby, Mass.).
Contributing: Jason Jordan, USA TODAY Sports