Basketball team

Sadraque Nganga joins Boise State men’s basketball team

As the highest-ranked rookie to join Boise State’s men’s basketball team straight out of high school, Sadraque Nganga faces high expectations.

But coach Leon Rice prefers to take a wait-and-see approach before declaring him the program’s next Tyson Degenhart, who was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season.

“It’s hard to say (how quickly Nganga will have an impact),” Rice said. “You look at Tyson. I had high expectations for him. I had high hopes for him, but you didn’t know how fast he would get there. He walked in and became this person we thought he could be right away and was a freshman.

“Until they come here and you work with them day to day, and they can play against the competition at this level, which is different, you can’t even begin to guess.”

Nganga officially signed with the Broncos on Thursday after previously announcing his engagement on social media in February.

“It’s a pretty special day because of this young man and what I see in him,” Rice said. “I think he’s a really, really special kid, and it starts with the person he is. He’s got a humility about him. I mean, he could go anywhere and he chose this program because he knows that it will be the one who will develop it.

The Angola native is ranked No. 76 in the country by and 86th by ESPN. Prior to an ACL injury, he was considered one of the top 15 rookies in the nation, with offers from Memphis, Arizona State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Saint Mary’s, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona and Auburn.

“That’s our priority is to build it for the long haul,” Rice said. “…When we look at the plans for the future, that’s where it all starts – the health and explosiveness we need to give him back.”

Nganga, a 6-foot-10 forward from Compass Prep in Phoenix, is rated a four-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN. And he could be called upon to contribute right away.

The Broncos have some uncertainty in the offseason. Emmanuel Akot and Marcus Shaver Jr. declared for the NBA draft while maintaining their final year of eligibility. Akot also said he was entering the transfer portal. Fellow redshirt senior Mladen Armus, who received an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has yet to announce whether he will return.

Boise State lost fifth-year senior Abu Kigab at graduation, which means the Broncos could return between one and four starters from last season’s team record. Boise State swept the regular-season and tournament championships from Mountain West while setting program records for total wins (27), conference wins (15) and consecutive wins (14).

“This is all a work in progress,” Rice said. “I feel good about where we are going with this thing. We have a lot of moving parts, and talking to other coaches across the country, it’s just a new era. By the time the season ends, his roster management and his portal management. The whole landscape of college basketball has changed so much over the past two years.

This story was originally published April 14, 2022 5:07 p.m.

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