The Ball State men's basketball team has a little bit of adjusting to do this year. With the graduation of four-time All-MAC player Jarrod Jones and eight newcomers on the roster, the Cardinals have to get used to a lot of new things.
Good thing one of those players is junior college transfer Majok Majok, who is used to changing situations throughout his life.
Majok, a 6-foot-8 forward whom head coach Billy Taylor pointed out as a key cog in replacing Jones, was born in the now South Sudan. Majok said he doesn't remember much about growing up in Africa because his family moved to Australia when he was very young. His athletic skills began to blossom while he was there, but in a different sport – soccer. It wasn't until he was 15 and at the suggestion of his parents that Majok began playing basketball.
“Mainly (started playing) because I got taller, bigger. So, my parents were like, 'Maybe you should think about playing basketball since everybody in soccer is small, short,'” Majok said.
His skills quickly progressed as Majok was named to Australia's U-18 FIBA team. While playing for it, he was offered scholarships to play prep basketball in the United States. He eventually made the decision to play at Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts.
“It was tough, moving to a different culture, leaving my family back home,” Majok said. “Everything was different – the food, the people, the weather – so it was kind of tough to get used to.”
After high school, Majok spent two years playing at Midland College, a junior college in Texas. He wasn't finished with his journey, though. Majok now has two years of eligibility remaining that he will use in the Midwest at Ball State.
And he couldn't have come at a better time for the Cardinals. With the graduation of Jones, Ball State lost its go-to player from the past few years who averaged 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
“A little bit by committee (to replace Jones), but I like how Majok Majok has played,” Taylor said. “He can score in the low post, has been a good passer, sees double teams and has the ability to make the 12-15 foot jump shot.”
Majok should be able to help his teammates on the court, but he is also teaching them a few things about life outside the United States. His roommate, senior Jauwan Scaife, mentioned his great athletic abilities on the court, but also some of his unique eating habits coming from a different culture.
“He puts sugar in his milk and just drinks it out of the cup; never seen that before,” Scaife said. “He doesn't eat a lot of the same food that we eat here. He says it is too greasy. There are a lot of things he does I'm not too used to, and it's kind of weird … but I mean the way I feel about it is the same way he feels about me when I do certain things. We just laugh it off.”
Now Majok just needs to help his team come together against a schedule that includes traveling to play No. 1 Indiana in under a month and to Purdue and Butler a few weeks later.
“We have a lot of new guys and a lot of good talent, so we just have to make sure we have team chemistry come together, and once we do that we could win a lot of games,” Majok said.