No. 55 junior sees spike in attention

Blair Academy junior swingman Marial Shayok had a big week last week, making his ESPN 60 debut just days before picking up a scholarship offer from Cincinnati.

That offer made the Bearcats just the latest in what is rapidly becoming a long line of suitors for the 6-foot-4 swingman.

Boston College was the first program to enter the mix in the fall, and when the season tipped off in November, they were still his only offer. Since that time he’s added Villanova, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Providence, Georgia, and now Cincinnati, and all indications are that those offers might just be the tip of the iceberg, with schools like Michigan, Ohio State, and a variety of others closely following the No. 55 junior’s progress.

Blair Academy head coach Joe Mantegna knows a thing or two about developing up and coming high-majors with NBA players Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva, and most recently, Virginia freshman Mike Tobey, among the program’s most notable basketball alumni. He believes Shayok has a chance to be another very special recruit.

“His brother is 6-foot-8 and his father is 6-foot-10,” Mantegna said last week, “so we think he could be a 6-foot-8 wing. That’s the growth pattern of the family.”

Seeing is believing, though, and Shayok has the look of a youngster who is still growing into his body. He already plays bigger than he is, thanks to his length and build, while simultaneously it remains very clear that his body is far from done developing.

That doesn’t mean he’s not ready to make an immediate impact. To the contrary, he’s been Blair’s most consistent presence this year. It’s just that his best basketball is still very clearly in front of him.

While coaches have been intrigued by his smooth floor game and ability to score the ball, Mantegna says his total impact goes beyond his ability to put the ball in the basket.

“He’s really versatile and an unbelievable competitor,” he says. “He’s scoring 15 points per game for us but he doesn’t have to score to make us better. He passes, he rebounds and does all the little things in between.”

Equally important, Shayok is a humble young man with the type of humility that makes you think he’ll have no problem putting in the work necessary to reach his full potential.

“He’ll carry the jerseys to the bus after games. He took two charges in the last minute of the St. Benedict’s game (a 54-52 win for Blair),” Mantegna said. “You don’t see a lot of guys with his talent level willing to do those things.”