In early May, Maryland head men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon added some serious frontcourt depth to replace NBA-bound Bruno Fernando when he signed 7-foot-2 center Chol Marial to fill out the
Terps' 2019 recruiting class
Marial, a consensus three-star recruit with a 7-foot-10 wingspan, was at one time the No. 1 rated center in his class but plummeted in the rankings due to a raft of injuries. He is now ready to prove he can live up to the high expectations once placed on him, and his mentality is simple.
"Every time I am on the court I just try to kill everybody," Marial said on
Glenn Clark Radio
May 17. "If you don't kill somebody, somebody's gonna kill you. You've got to try to kill first."
Marial played at IMG Academy in Florida before finishing his prep career with an injury-shortened 2018-19 season at Compass Prep (Ariz.), where he averaged 14 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks per game.
Those injuries, which included a serious case of shin splints, are what made him drop from the top of the 2019 class two years ago to around 165th nationally, according to 247Sports. Marial said he has added weight and muscle and feels ready to contribute right away.
"That's on my mind every day. I was No. 1 in this class two years ago, but when you get hurt, I've got to be hungry and do what I did before," he said. "I know that I'm still No. 1 in my mind and I'm going to show that in college. ... I'm just waiting for the season to come. I'm ready to get out there."
When he came to the United States by himself from South Sudan in 2014, Marial said he didn't know the language, but basketball helped him assimilate. It helped to see other players from Africa come to America and have success like South Sudanese-born Timberwolves forward Luol Deng and Manute Bol, the 7-foot-7 Sudanese center who played 11 seasons in the NBA.
"I think basketball helped me a lot because every time ... I played basketball I forgot everything and just played," he said. "When I first came here I didn't speak English that well but every day I am improving a lot. That was a challenge to me and I didn't know a lot of people here and I just came here by myself. It was a challenge but I got used to it. Now I know a lot of people and my family is here."
This fall, Marial will be paired in the Terps' frontcourt with 6-foot-10 forward Jalen Smith. Marial and the rising sophomore could pose a serious challenge for opposing teams when they are on the court together.
"I am going to try to go there and help however I can," Marial said. "If I'm not in there, Jalen will be in there and that's going to balance the team. If we are in there [together], that's going to be scary too, me and him."
Even before Marial signed with the Terps, several "way-too-early" preseason polls ranked the team as a top-10 team for next year. With his addition, Maryland now has the third-best recruiting class in the Big Ten and 26th-best nationally.
Marial predicted even loftier goals than those what those polls suggested.
"I think we might be more than top 10 this year because we're going to go in there and try to kill everybody," he said. "It's not a doubt because we're going to show that and prove that to people we're a top team in the nation."
For more from Marial, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Zachary Latimer