Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
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Australian link gives Hogs angle for JUCO forward
UC Riverside coach David Patrick calls a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Junior college forward Akol Mawein is no stranger to Arkansas associate head coach David Patrick.
Mawein, 6-10, 220 pounds, of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, was committed to Patrick and the University of California-Riverside prior to Patrick assuming his new position at Arkansas on July 1. Mawein reopened his recruitment July 8.
Patrick, who grew up in Australia, has known Mawein since he was a sophomore at Montverde Academy in Florida.
“Me and coach Patrick have known each other now for six years,” said Mawein, who has a scholarship offer from the Hogs. “He’s someone that just tells me how it is, and these days that rare.”
Mawein, who is back home in Brisbane, Australia, plans to return to Navarro on Aug. 18.
He has two cousins from Australia with connections to Patrick. Kouat Noi played forward for Patrick when he was an assistant at TCU, and forward Duop Reath inked with LSU before Patrick left for Fort Worth.
Mawein calls Patrick’s upfront approach “very refreshing.”
“Having someone that will tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear is something you really can’t take for granted,” Mawein said. “Coach Patrick was the first person to reach out to me about his new position.”
He averaged 13.5 points, 5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game as a freshman for the Bulldogs while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, 32.8 percent beyond the 3-point line and 62.4 percent from the free throw line.
Before arriving at Navarro, Mawein played at Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock as a junior and senior. He also played for the Woodz Elite program on the Nike EYBL circuit. He remembers the rabid Razorback fans while in Arkansas.
“I remember the whole state of Arkansas shows a lot of love to basketball players,” he said. “The loyalty is insane. Whenever their season was on, everyone was tuned in. The whole state, it’s crazy.”
Navarro Coach Grant McMillan calls Mawein “extremely versatile” because of his ability to play multiple positions. There was a four-game stretch in late January and early February where Mawein scored 22 points or more, with a high of 31 points in 76-66 victory over Panola College
“AK was kind of like our No. 1 option on offense,” McMillan said. “He can really put the ball in the basket. He’s like a mismatch nightmare on our level. Too quick for bigs to guard, and is long and tall. He pretty much has a huge advantage on any wing in our league. He has an unbelievable first step.
“He was one of the best freshmen in our conference, and he’s destined to be one of the higher-ranked guys in the country at our level.”
Mawein said communication with Arkansas has been steady.
“They’re reaching out to me a lot. They’ve been in touch with me almost every day within the past two weeks,” he said.
He and Patrick connected on a Zoom call Thursday.
“We spoke about the playing style and when I would be able to go on a visit with my family,” Mawein said. “They want me to play the 3, 4 and just be a three-level scorer.”
He also has been in contact with Coach Eric Musselman.
“Coach Muss is great,” Mawein said. “I saw a few clips of him coaching in the game and the energy is on another level, and the playing style is a free-flowing offense that’s very fast, which is really good because that’s something I can excel in.”
His college decision appears to be in the distant future.
“As of right now, I’m going to wait and take my visit with my family, then I’ll come to a decision,” he said.
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