The University of Maine men’s basketball team was undersized near the basket this season, with sophomore forward Andrew Fleming often required to play center after primary frontcourt mate Vincent Eze had to sit out the entire campaign due to offseason surgery on both hips.
Jonathan Komagum hopes to alleviate that situation when he arrives on the Orono campus in the fall.
Komagum, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound postgraduate forward from London, via TaylorMade Academy in Pensacola, Florida, joins Portland High School senior Terion Moss in making a verbal commitment to new head coach Richard Barron’s program.
“Jonathan is a long, rangy, wiry forward who blocks a ton of shots, grabs a ton of rebounds and plays with a ton of energy,” said TaylorMade Academy coach Anthony Taylor. “He’s still somewhat raw offensively but he’s got perimeter skills where he can put it on the floor, make a 3(-pointer) now and then and knock down the 15-footer a lot more consistently.”
Komagum, who came to the United States last fall, averaged 11.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots this winter while shooting 52 percent from the field and 68 percent from the free-throw line.
He amassed those statistics despite a slow transition to American basketball.
“Nobody’s worked harder than Jonathan, and I can’t overstate that enough,” said Taylor. “Jonathan had to adapt culturally, he had to adapt physically and he had to adapt to my coaching style. I’m a very old-school guy, a very hands-on guy and he just wasn’t used to that.
“But right around Christmas break when all the other kids went home he stayed and I think the game finally slowed down for him, and when we came back for the second semester things just really started to click and he adapted to the American game at a high level.”
Taylor expects Komagum — who has a 7-foot-2-inch wingspan — to have an immediate defensive impact at UMaine after leading his team this winter with 75 blocked shots in 28 games while playing against rival prep schools and junior colleges throughout the South and Southwest.
“What I told coach Barron was that right away he’s going to step off the plane and be a contributor on the defensive end,” said Taylor. “He’ll block a lot of shots, he’ll grab rebounds.
“I don’t think it will take him longer than a year before he’s contributing on the offensive end, but defensively he’ll contribute right away. He does a terrific job of protecting the paint.”
Komagum selected UMaine after also fielding offers from the likes of Alabama State, Alabama A&M and South Carolina State.
“He liked the Northeast because the weather more similar to London and a lot of his friends had attended prep school in the Northeast,” Taylor said.
Barron, the former UMaine women’s basketball head coach, made his initial contact with Komagum and Taylor soon after replacing Bob Walsh as the Black Bears’ men’s basketball coach on March 5.
“We liked what coach Barron had to say in terms of his philosophy and his history with the school,” said Taylor. “We believed in his vision for the men’s program.”
Komagum is expected to make his first visit to the Orono campus in a few weeks, Taylor said. The NCAA’s spring National Letter of Intent signing period is set to begin on April 11.
Taylor said one offseason priority for Komagum will be to add as much as 20 pounds to his frame in preparation for the physical rigors of Division I basketball.
Komagum is among four players on this year’s TaylorMade Academy team to move on to a Division I college program. One player is still deciding from among numerous offers and two others are headed for Louisiana-Lafayette and Coastal Carolina.
“I’m really proud for Jonathan. He’s definitely been our most improved player and he’s really earned it,” Taylor said.
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