Beyond Belief: An Exclusive with 2017 Prospect Daniel Mading

When Daniel Mading first arrived in the US, he was one of the best kept secrets in Australian basketball. Now, after having an impressive freshman year and performing well in training camps, The 6'9 forward out of Perth is proving to be one of the most talented and intriguing players for the Class of 2017.

Daniel Mading @ The Super Soph Camp

Daniel Mading is among the new surge of Sudanese-Australian basketball prospects who are establishing themselves as some of the best talents in the country. In 2002, Mading and his family managed to escape Sudan, finding refuge in Perth. Since then, he's moved to the United States to pursue his basketball dream - even rubbing shoulders with some of the other top Sudanese-Australian prospects, Thon and Matur Maker, at the John Lucas Midwest Invitational this past weekend.

LSU, Texas Tech and Arizona Tech are among those who have offered Mading as his recruitment continues to improve. High profile programs like Florida, Ohio St and Georgetown have also enquired about Mading as he continues his development.

Team PnR editor Olgun Uluc managed to catchup with Daniel to ask him a few questions as he enters his sophomore year at The Rock School in Gainesville, Florida.

Olgun: So how did you first get into basketball? What was the first association you played for in Perth?

Daniel: Just growing up in a household where basketball is a big factor, and watching my older brothers play the game really encouraged me to play and love the sport. I played for the Rhinos, it's a team based in Perth to help multicultural, mostly Sudanese, kids reach their full potential and get them exposure. So that's where it all started for me.

Olgun: What was the deciding factor in your decision to move to the US to play high school basketball?

Daniel: Just to see where I'm really at among the top players in my class across the world, also it gives me a bigger step to reaching my goals of wanting to play in college and the NBA.

Olgun: How did you get involved with the Beyond Belief Program?

Daniel: My uncle Sean is the founder of the program. The program is based on helping kids across the United States and around the world, and to give them a better chance to reach their full potential, whether it's academically or athletically.

Olgun: For those that haven’t seen you play, can you describe your game for us? Is there an NBA player that you try model your game after?

Daniel: I'm versatile and coordinated for a tall person at such a young age, giving me the ability to move quicker than most people my height and also to be a defensive mismatch - being able to guard multiple positions. I'm more of a face to the basket type of player, being able to stretch the floor, handle the ball, shoot it well and finish around the rim. A player I really try to model my game after? I would like to say Paul George at this moment, even though I'm not quite there yet, I really admire his game and I try to base my game around his.

Daniel Mading @ The Super Soph Camp

Olgun: What are you goals for this upcoming year? What do you hope to improve on throughout your sophomore year?

Daniel: Ahh man, just winning a state championship. That's really what's on my mind right now, which is the biggest goal for me and my teammates for this upcoming season. Just being able to put on some weight and develop a back to the basket game, and get a consistent mid-range jumper.

Olgun: You’re at The Rock School in Florida, how has that been so far from both an academic and a basketball standpoint?

Daniel: It's been really good, I've learned so much from the past 10 months. My coach is really tough on me both academically and basketball-wise, wanting me to be able to reach my full potential. I really appreciate knowing I have a coach who not only cares for me from a basketball standpoint, but also from an academic standpoint. But besides that it's been a good experience so far and I'm really enjoying it by the day.

Olgun: It’s still early and your recruitment is likely to improve over the years but which colleges have been recruiting you the hardest so far?

Daniel: Ahh right now I would say Florida, Ohio St, Kansas St and Arizona St. They've been getting at me the hardest. Although a lot of other coaches have been contacting me, these are the schools that are really getting at me the hardest at this point.

Olgun: You’ve been described as a high-major talent, how much of a goal is the NBA for you?

Daniel: Oh wow, I think that's the ultimate goal for me & most young kids at my age & beyond. That's what we really try to reach for, but it's definitely my biggest goal so I just have to keep striving for it and be humble.

Daniel Mading (Right) with Matur Maker (Left) @ The John Lucas Midwest Invitational

Olgun: Is playing for the Boomers a goal for you? Have you been in touch with any coaches from Basketball Australia about potentially playing national basketball for Australia?

Daniel: Oh yeah of course, after what Australia did for me and my family I feel like playing for the Boomers could be a way for me giving back and saying thank you. Nah, I haven't had any coaches reach out to me yet but I've spoke to some other coaches who have highly considered me as someone who could play for the Australian team at Adidas Nations.

We'd like to thank Daniel for taking the time out to answer some questions for us. Make sure you stay tuned as we cover Daniel's sophomore year, as well as the other Aussies playing high school basketball over in the US.

Make sure to FOLLOW Daniel on Twitter!