Emmanuel Akot steps up the basketball game


Emmanuel Akot dribbles past his opponents. THE PROJECTOR/ Taylor Allen

There’s a new face of basketball in Manitoba, and his name is Emmanuel Akot.

On March 8, Akot announced his commitment to the University of Arizona Wildcats. He’ll be joining the team in 2019.

“I’m going to Arizona and I picked them because when I went there, it was a family atmosphere,” said Akot in an interview with Scout.com.

Arizona is one of the most highly respected basketball programs in the NCAA. They were ranked fourth in the nation heading into this year’s March Madness tournament. Currently, there are 12 Wildcat alumni playing in the NBA—like Aaron Gordon, Andre Iguodala, and Jason Terry.

“They put players in the NBA and that’s where I want to go and that’s why I’m picking Arizona,” said Akot to Scout. com. The small forward is listed as 6’8’’ and 195 pounds.

Akot, 18, will become the fourth Manitoban male to play NCAA Division I basketball. Todd MacCulloch, the only Manitoban to ever play in the NBA, played for the Washington Huskies from 1995-1999. Dan Becker played for the Colorado Buffaloes from 1986-1989 before playing professionally overseas. Cam Hornby was the last Manitoban to play Division I hoops—he played briefly for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in 2006.

Chiranjit Goswami, who coached Akot from 2012-2015 with the Winnipeg Wolves, is not surprised to see Akot become the next Manitoban to play down south. The first time Goswami saw Akot play, he knew he was something special.

“After I saw him play for 15-20 minutes, I certainly knew he had (playing Division I basketball) in his potential,” said Goswami, who has been coaching basketball for 20 years. “With his size, his length, his athleticism and skill level, this was a kid that could probably achieve bigger things than other kids I’ve seen in Winnipeg.”

Goswami recalls the exact moment when he noticed Akot’s talents. Akot, who was 14 at the time, made an incredible cross-court pass between 3 defenders in a scrimmage at a basketball camp.

“I’ve only seen a couple guys make that pass and he made it when he was 14,” says Goswami.

Akot played club basketball for the Winnipeg Wolves as well as his high school, Kildonan East Collegiate, up until Grade 10. After an impressive performance with the Wolves at the 2014 Jayhawk Invitational in Kansas, Akot received an offer to attend a boarding school in Utah called Wasatch Academy to help him take his game to the next level.

“It was the tournament where he realized he could play at that level,” said Goswami. “I immediately got a call about him when I got home.”

Akot, a five-star recruit, is the 3rd ranked prospect in Canada according to North Pole Hoops, and Scout.com has him as the 15th ranked prospect in the world. He will play one more season at Wasatch Academy before heading to Arizona.