Jonathan Komagum, Uganda’s latest big discovery

Fresh Man. Komagum has a budding reputation and all eyes will be on him. PHOTO | COURTESY

Since time immemorial, Ugandan basketball has struggled to find the right size to compete with the best on the continent.

It is still a problem and was mainly highlighted last September when the Silverbacks fell to Cape Verde in the quarterfinals of Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda.

 Then, Deng Geu and James Okello struggled to deal with the Islanders’ big man Walter Tavares who eased his way to a double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds as his team progressed to the semis with a 79-71 victory. At 7’3, Tavares stands out against most of his opponents wherever he plays. His presence in the paint leaves little room for opponents to operate around the basket.

Uganda might not have a 7’3 frame in the team yet but Jonathan Komagum is the man expected to solve the team’s size problems going forward.  The 6’9 London born big is the latest discovery by the National team Committee and is already in Kigali for the second round of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.  He was part of the team camp in Egypt and took part in the 59-89 loss to Egypt before the team flew to Rwanda.

When the Silverbacks start their second round of the qualifiers against Mali tomorrow, Komagum will be making his debut for his country and the nation will be eager to see what he brings to the table.

 He is a skilled rebounder and shot blocker who can score the ball on the low block and has a decent shot from range.  Uganda has in the past had to naturalize players to get size into the team. Barcelona’s Brandon Davies is the naturalized big man in the team but cannot play in the same window with Phoenix Suns’ Ishmail Wainwright. The discovery of Komagum, therefore, comes in handy. 

Since the retirement of Stanley Ocitti, the Silverbacks have struggled to find a purely Ugandan big man and it remains to be seen whether Komagum can fill the void.

“He is a big guy that can block shots, clog the paint and rebound the ball,” Silverbacks team manager Albert Ahabwe told Daily Monitor.

“He fills a role we have been looking for for a while,” he added.

In the just concluded season with the Sacramento State Hornets, Komagum played 27 games, including 24 starts at centre. 

Better numbers

He averaged 5.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in 28.2 minutes. He raised his numbers in conference play to 6.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

 He scored in double figures seven times, including four straight games, had two double-doubles, including 13 points and 12 rebounds vs. UC Davis, and 15 points, 10 rebounds vs. Portland State.

The centre led the Hornets in rebounding on 16 occasions.

Prior to Sacramento State, Komagum played one season (2020-21) at Toledo of the Mid-American Conference after playing two years (2018-20) at Williston State College in Williston, N.D.

He also played one post-graduate year (2017-18) at Taylor Made Academy in Avondale, Ariz.

Komagum is a 2017 graduate of the City of London Academy and helped the Southwark Pride defend their U18 national title in 2017. He was named MVP of championship game after registering a double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds.

He then moved to the USA where he attended TaylorMade Academy in Avondale Arizona for one year.

 Come tip off at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda tomorrow, all eyes will be on the Silverbacks but no doubt everyone will be looking out for jersey number 21 and what he adds to the team that finished number five in Africa last year.

AT A GLANCE

Full Name: Jonathan Komagum

Position: Forward/centre

Height: 6’9

High School: City of London Academy

Last season: Sacramento State Hornets

National team caps: 0   Shirt number: 21

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