Could Khaman Maluach become the NBL's newest fan favourite Next Star should he commit to the program for NBL25?

21 Dec
By Dan Woods for

GM of Next Star Recruitment Liam Santamaria has confirmed the NBL has been in contact with prodigious South Sudanese talent Khaman Maluach about joining the competition in NBL25. 

Maluach burst onto the international scene as a member of South Sudan’s historic FIBA World Cup roster earlier this year, and travelled to the tournament at the age of 16.

Now 17, Maluach is a member of Africa’s NBA Global Academy, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has reported the 7’2” center is fielding offers from a number of high-profile outfits.

<iframe src="" allow="autoplay; clipboard-write" width="100%" height="180" frameborder="0" title="Liam Santamaria on SEN - December 19, 2023"></iframe>

“It was reported on ESPN from Jonathan Givony – their NBA Draft expert – that South Sudanese prospect Khaman Maluach is in the process of deciding what he’s going to do,” Santamaria told ESPN.

“He played for South Sudan in the FIBA World Cup last year as a 16-year-old, and he’s just a super-duper elite talent. He’s at the NBA Academy in Africa right now. He’s got family in the NBL, his cousin Makuach Maluach plays for Sydney and used to play for Melbourne United and he’s an elite draft prospect.

“He’s just reclassified into the class of 2024, so he’s going to move into the NBA Draft in the 2025 Draft. He’s part of that mix, we’re in conversations with him and his mentors at the NBA Academy.

“So are others, Duke, Kentucky, other colleges, G-League Ignite, but he’s certainly having a good look at the NBL as well.

“Those who watched the Boomers play against South Sudan at John Cain Arena ahead of the FIBA World Cup earlier this year would know who I’m talking about, because Khaman came out in the last few minutes of that game and put on an absolute show.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Maluach is being recruited by Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas and Baylor. Other options include G League Ignite and the NBL Next Stars program, as well as staying with the NBA Academy Africa and becoming the first player ever to be drafted directly from Africa. <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) <a href="">December 17, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“We would love to have him in the program next year and we think we would be fantastic for him.”

Should Maluach elect to join the NBL he would likely form one half of a mouthwatering rivalry in the post with Brisbane’s Rocco Zikarsky, who also only becomes draft eligible in 2025.

Outside of the ineligible Zikarsky, each current Next Star has featured heavily in a variety of different mock drafts leading into 2024. Alex Sarr, Bobi Klintman, AJ Johnson and Trentyn Flowers were all projected to be drafted in the first round in Yahoo Sports’ recent mock.

Santamaria says this year’s mixture of international flavour and local talent within the Next Stars program strikes a good balance.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">7’2” Khaman Maluach has only been hooping for 4 YEARS. He just had 22 &amp; 13 at the <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GLeagueWinterShowcase</a>. Future is BRIGHT! ? <a href="">@nbagleague</a> <a href="">@nbaacademy</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; SLAM (@SLAMonline) <a href="">December 19, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“We’ve got two elite Aussie prospects in Alex Toohey and Rocco Zikarsky, we’ve got a couple of guys from North America in Trentyn Flowers and AJ Johnson – five-star prospects – and we’ve got some big-time talents from around the rest of the globe as well, specifically Europe,” he said.

“I feel like that kind of balance is a good one because it’s a global game and ours has become a global league. The pathway can benefit guys from all over the world.

“I’m really enjoying watching them flourish in the league and the excitement and enthusiasm they’ve brought to the league.”

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