Layton • A weekday practice has just begun, and the Layton Christian Academy Eagles are hustling through a dribbling drill. Basketballs thump on hardwood up and down the court. But coach Bobby Porter is huddled in an alcove next to the gym, where he tells the story with a tone of reverence.
Smiles leap from Porter’s lips as he goes on, and he pauses periodically to shake his head. He unfurls a story that seems implausible, but there is conviction in his eyes.
Year » Senior
School » Layton Christian Academy
Position » Center
As Porter tells the tale, its subject, Christian Musoko, is on the court, dribbling from one end of the court to the other, behind his back, between his legs. He is impossible to miss at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, and he is one of the best basketball players in Utah.
The thing is this: He has been playing for just two years and no one in the state had heard of him before September.
Musoko was roughly 8,600 miles away five months ago, in his home of the Republic of Congo. He came to Layton Christian in September on an international exchange program for his senior year. And that’s where the story begins.
"I’ll say this to you — I didn’t know about him," Porter said. "It’s just the luck of the draw that we wound up being able to have him. We didn’t know anything about him."
Porter and the rest of the Eagles found out about Musoko as soon as he stepped on the hardwood. It immediately was clear his footwork in the post was exceptional for a high school player, and his work ethic was unparalleled. Musoko’s polish and talent caught the whole team off guard.
And then there was the moment. Porter laughs as he described it because he knew right then that he had a superstar.
"I saw he was special," Porter said, "when a young man shot a jump shot from the corner and [Musoko] was halfway in between the basket and the corner and he went up and caught the ball. He didn’t block the ball — he caught it. I was like, ‘Oh.’"
Word about Musoko quickly has been spreading as those who have witnessed him play share stories about his exploits. Porter said Musoko was averaging 19.8 points, 16 rebounds and 7 blocks entering last week, and now several colleges, including Utah, BYU, Memphis and Arizona, are interested in the big man.
"We’ve got people from all over the country calling," Porter said. "My phone is ringing off the hook."
That a chance to play in college awaits blows away Musoko, who Porter said doesn’t take opportunity for granted the way an athlete born in the United States might. In August, he was home with his family in the Congo. A wide-open future awaits months later — one he says even his parents have a hard time grasping.
"They don’t understand," said Musoko, who still is mastering English. "But they just support me, to be good and work hard and stay focused on what I do. ... I enjoy playing here. I see a lot of opportunity here. I’m excited to play in college. I want to stay focused, learn more basketball here and improve my skills."
Musoko’s polish and dominance on the hardwood is stunning for someone who has been playing for just two years. It is for that reason that Porter, who believes Musoko is the best pure big man in the state, insists the center’s future is boundless.
"The sky is the limit," he said. "He’s hard on himself, and I’m like, ‘No, no, no. You’re just learning this.’ And he’s like, ‘I can do better, coach. I must be better.’ I just shake my head."
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