Mayan Kiir has reached a new milestone in his still young, storied basketball career.
When the Westchester Knicks selected Kiir with the 15th overall pick in last week’s draft, he became the first Basketball Africa League (BAL) player to be selected in an NBA G League Draft.
But how did Kiir catch the attention of the Knicks?
The 24-year-old forward let his game speak for himself when he suited up for Cobra Sport during the BAL Nile Conference last April in Cairo, Egypt. It was the exposure that he needed to showcase his basketball talent.
And although Cobra Sport missed out on the BAL playoffs, the 6’9 forward left Cairo knowing that his shares had skyrocketed.
Physically gifted and a constant threat to opponents, Kiir triggered his BAL career with a jaw-dropping performance against Nile Conference hosts Zamalek to establish a new BAL record.
On March 8, 2022, US Monastir’s Ater Majok set a BAL record (16 rebounds) in a 76-55 win against SLAC in the Sahara Conference, but, it turned out to be a short-lived achievement.
Kiir’s 22 rebounds – twice as many as the second top rebounder (Anas Mahmoud) on the opening night of the Nile Conference - on April 9 against Zamalek – are the most recorded by any player in the history of the BAL.
Along with his 22 rebounds, Kiir disrupted the former BAL champions’ defense with a game-high of 18 points, despite Cobra Sport’s 80-63 loss. Kiir didn’t stop there, and, for most of his Nile Conference showings, the former New Mexico State University standout continued to terrorize Cobra Sport’s opponents, such was the case against Cape Town Tigers in a game that Kiir had a 9-17 shooting to finish with 22 points and 9 rebounds.
At the end of his five BAL games, Kiir recorded two double-doubles (he had 9 rebounds in two other games); he averaged 18.8 points per game and finished the 2022 BAL season as the highest rebounder with an average of 11.4 boards per game.
Those who watched him in action in Cairo, like the Knicks, took notice of Kiir’s talent; the South Sudan national team already knew him, and pre-selected him for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers; fans and scouts kept his name in mind, and when the Knicks opportunity knocked on his door, Kiir grabbed it with open arms.