YORKTON - The Saskatchewan Rattlers have added some more size to its roster for the 2023 season.
Recently inked by the Rattlers is Edmonton, Alta-native Adong Makuoi. The six-foot nine big man spent three seasons in the NCAA D1 program, playing with the Northern Illinois Huskies and the Tennessee State Tigers. Makuoi makes his professional debut in the CEBL this summer.
Makuoi said it feels great to have signed his first pro contract, telling Yorkton This Week he is happy with the opportunity being afforded him by Saskatchewan.
While one might have thought Makuoi would end up with the CEBL Stingers in Edmonton, he said the Rattler offer was ultimately a better fit.
“It was a big decision,” he said, but added it helped that he knew the Rattler GM and its assistant coach Eric Magdanz, which gave him a level of comfort joining the squad.
“It kind of made things a little more familiar.”
As for the hometown Stingers, they never made a pitch that fit, said Makuoi.
“They weren’t really serious,” he said adding by contrast the Rattlers “were the only team that took me seriously . . . That believed in me.”
Makuoi also has something of a previous connection to Saskatoon, home of the Rattlers.
Prior to entering college, Makuoi played for Archbishop O’Leary High school in Edmonton, noted a Rattler release. The Archbishop O’Leary Spartans made appearances in Saskatoon’s longest reigning invitational tournament, BRIT in 2015 and 2016, where Makuoi was named Dunk Champion.
Makuoi spent his last year of high school at The RISE Centre Academy in Brantford, Ontario and was selected that season to play in the 2018 BioSteel All-Canadian High School Basketball Game.
Rattler General Manager Barry Rawlyk said he believes Makuoi can be an impact player.
“We are looking forward to seeing Adong make an immediate contribution in our front court, even as a first-year player in the league. We anticipate him bringing the same physical style of play and hustle that he displayed throughout his college career,” he said in a Rattler release. “I actually tried to recruit Adong when he was coming out of high school, so I am a real fan of how he plays.”
Makuoi said it’s a huge positive that the CEBL exists as a place for Canadians to play.
“It’s really great,” he said adding a stint in the CEBL has proven to be a stepping stone with various alumni playing in the NBA G League and in top European leagues.
Some such as Xavier Moon and Lindell Wigginton have played in the NBA too, noted Makuoi.
“Players from across the country are playing at a top level,” he said, adding the CEBL is an avenue “to getting feet wet as professionals.”
Makuoi comes to the Rattlers after a solid NCAA career.
Makuoi made his collegiate debut for Palm Beach State Junior College for the 2018-19 season, detailed the Rattler release. He started 29 of the 30 games as a freshman averaging 8.1 points, 5.6 rebounds while shooting 58.1 percent from the field. Makuoi transferred to Daytona State Junior College for the 2019-2020 season. Makuoi started all 30 games as a sophomore, averaging 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 69.8 percent from the field and 75.0 percent for the free throw line. Makuoi was named to the All-Mid-Florida Conference Second Team.
Makuoi entered NCAA D1 as a junior with the Northern Illinois University Huskies for the 2020-21 season. As a junior, he started 14 of 17 games averaging 4.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 17.9 minutes per game. In his final season with the Huskies, Makuoi made it into the starting line-up 25 of the 30 games played. He finished the season averaging 5.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 16.9 minutes per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. Makuoi transferred to Tennessee State University for the 2022-23 season. In his final NCAA season, he started all 32 games averaging 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 22.4 minutes per game while shooting 62 percent from the field. Makuoi lead his team in total rebounds (175), rebounds per game (5.5), total blocks (35), and blocks per game (1.1). In his final year, he set new career-bests with 18 points (Dec 20), and four blocks (Jan 12).
Now stepping up to the pro level Makuoi said he just hopes to bring effort to whatever role he earns with the Rattlers.
“I’m just going to try to bring some energy,” he said. ... I just like playing basketball. Competing is all I want to do, Now my main focus is I want to be a professional basketball player.”
The Rattler season begins May 31, hosting the Vancouver Bandits.