There are so many unknowns with the Boise State basketball program right now.
Will Marcus Shaver Jr. come back? Will Mladen Armus return? Will Emmanuel Akot transfer or go to the draft or suit up for the Broncos another season? Who will coach Leon Rice and Co. snatch from the transfer portal?
College basketball teams all over the country are in flux. Boise State is no different, waiting on a bunch of shoes to drop.
On Thursday, though, the Broncos got a guarantee. Sadraque “Sada” Nganga, the four-star forward who committed to Boise State back in mid-February, made things official and signed his letter of intent.
“He’s 6-(foot)-10, can dribble the ball, can really shoot the ball off the catch, has great vision,” Nganga’s coach at Compass Prep, Ed Gipson, told the Idaho Press in February And I feel like he’s not fully back to the form that he’s going to be (at). I really feel like his best years are in front of him.”
“What we signed today is pretty special,” Rice said to reporters on Thursday.
Special might be an understatement, at least on paper. A top 100 recruit by both ESPN (86) and 247Sports (76), Nganga is the highest-rated prospect to ever sign with Boise State out of high school. The 6-10, 205-pound wing out of Compass Prep in Arizona chose the Broncos over some of college basketball behemoths.
Last May, Nganga released a Top-11 list that included Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA, Arizona, Auburn, Memphis, Illinois, etc. Notably missing: Boise State.
By that point, though, Nganga wasn’t playing basketball. He was still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the summer of 2020, which may have caused some schools to cool their interest on the big-time recruit.
“I don’t even know if they were scared, but when you don’t see someone play, it’s like, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” Gipson said. “But, honestly, the schools start to come back.
“I think Sada chose Boise State because that’s where he felt the most comfortable and where he thought he could be the most successful at.”
That’s what Rice was banking on. Boise State’s pitch to big-time recruits does not revolve around hype or clout or all the outside noise that inflates 17-year-old heads to the size of blimps. No, the Broncos sell two things: family and development.
“What I think we’ll see with Sada is his strengths will change the longer he’s here,” Rice said. “The person that we’re getting in June when he comes here is going to be a lot different than the person that leaves here. That’s exciting for us and, I think, exciting for him and his family.”
Rice was sure to point out the humility of Nganga — and one can glean that without even talking with him.
Development is an awesome word if you’re sitting on the end of the bench in a JV game. That guy strives to improve. The star at a prep school with offers out the wazoo? That kid isn’t always gung-ho about the idea of development. That takes time and effort — and time and effort don’t seem so crucial when you’ve dominated at every level.
“That’s why I have so much respect for the kid,” Rice said. “There’s a maturity to him and a humbleness to him and a work ethic that I love. You match that with the abilities he’s been given, the sky’s the limit.”
The sky might also be where Nganga’s expectations are heading into his freshman season. He’s currently the highest-ranked signee headed to a Mountain West school, which leads one to think he’s got the ability to take over the conference.
But some people thought that about Akot years ago, back when the former five-star guard transferred from Arizona to Boise State. Akot was solid, but it’s not like he was ever in the conversation for Mountain West Player of the Year.
So what does that mean for Nganga?
“It’s hard to tell,” Rice said. “You look at (freshman Tyson Degenhart). I had high expectations for him. I had high hopes for him. But I didn’t know how quickly he’d get to that. He came in and became that person we thought he could be right away and became freshman of the year.
“Until they get here and you get to work with them day-to-day and they get to play against competition at this level — which is different — you can’t even begin to guess.”