Hungry Jack's NBL
Phoenix Add Junior Madut
The South East Melbourne Phoenix have announced the signing of local shooting guard/small forward Junior Madut on a two year deal (club option for the second year).
Madut grew up in Blacktown, Sydney before heading to Hawaii for college, playing for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in the NCAA.
He is a familiar face to the Phoenix, spending eight months in 2019 training with the club throughout the pre-season and is ecstatic to be joining the team as a full-time rostered player.
"Signing with the club, it's been a long time coming; I've been talking to Simon, talking to a lot of the guys throughout the couple of years I have been at Hawaii. I worked out with them (Phoenix) for eight months during the pre-season, and I was a training player for them. We've always had that relationship, and it's always a place that I see myself coming to. It's a full-circle moment," Madut said.
Madut played with fellow Australian Mate Colina in Hawaii, who has now signed with Richmond Football Club and commented how it made the process easier for him in Hawaii.
"It's been a blessing; Hawaii was a great place for me, good people, the basketball was good. I think I matured and grown; it's been good; there's nothing bad I can say about the experience," he said.
Madut averaged 10.7 points, 1.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.7 steals during his career so far.
As a competitive player, Madut feels like Phoenix is the place for him to help the organisation achieve the championship goal.
"The type of player I am is a competitive player. I play hard, play defence, and I think I can shoot the ball pretty well. I plan to bring that to Phoenix, that defensive presence, some shooting, some playmaking.
"I just think the Phoenix is an organisation that has an opportunity to win a championship, and I want to play whatever role can to help," he commented.
Phoenix head coach Simon Mitchell was eager to have Madut back with the Phoenix, bringing his athleticism and intensity to the side.
"Junior is someone very familiar with the Phoenix team, having spent our inaugural season as a training player before heading off to Hawaii for college. He brings great intensity and athleticism to our backcourt on both sides of the ball. A tough defender with great lateral speed and is competitive, always wanting the toughest match-ups," he said.
"Junior can score from the perimeter, get on the rim and is excellent at getting out on the break where he can finish above the rim or create for others. I love how he has developed his pick and roll offensive package whilst in college and feel he will give us another weapon to create in these situations.
"I am looking forward to having Junior join the squad. I love his tenacity, and he is a kid with great potential to be a long term pro."
Madut's basketball journey was different to most. He didn't go down the traditional representative pathway but built his reputation through the US school system, and a stint in the US college system. The full support of his family throughout his journey became one of his biggest motivators.
"I got into basketball through my older brother. He used to play basketball, so he put the ball in my hand. I fell in love with the game from a very young age," the 25-year-old said.
"Firstly, the motivation in myself to be good and secondly definitely my family. My mum, I am always talking to her on the phone; she's in Africa now, and she's always keeping me motivated, reminding me why I started what I am doing. Just making her proud keeps pushing me; that's why I stayed in school last year to graduate and make her proud," he said.
Madut is in Chicago working on his body before he flies to Melbourne in a couple of months.
"It's a blessing. It's honestly a dream come true; as a young person, I would have never seen myself in this position (playing professionally back in Australia). It's a blessing; all the hard work I've been through it's a great moment," he said.
"I got into the culture; it's a good group of guys, good culture. It was always fun being around them, always getting better every day, with no complaints on my side. It's exciting coming back and knowing what I am getting into. Finally, being in a position where I can help and play my role.
"I have witnessed the atmosphere from a fan's perspective, so I have seen that. Being on the court and being part of that will be exciting; I can't wait."