World traveler Lwal Dung latest to join Wyoming men’s hoops
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Lwal Dung was born in South Sudan. He played high school basketball in Adelaide, South Australia. He spent his freshman year of college basketball at Tallahassee County (Florida) Community College and his sophomore year at Neosho County (Kansas) Community College.
Now, he hopes to have found a home in Wyoming. Dung became the final member of Wyoming’s 2018 recruiting class when he signed with the Cowboys earlier this month.
“It’s been challenging, but once you stay in a place for a little while, you kind of adapt to the surroundings,” said Dung, whose name is pronounced “Lew-all Ding.” ″And once you leave again, it’s kind of hard. You have to make new friends and talk to people differently than you do when you’re in Australia. So that’s been the most challenging part, really, because in Australia, you could talk to anybody. But when I came to America, you can’t just talk to everybody.
“But Wyoming is different, because people, they just talk to you and that translates. You start talking to other people without even knowing.”
Dung, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound small forward, had recruiting interest from Kansas State, Cincinnati and East Carolina, but none of them offered him a scholarship. Dung said the fact that he had to complete summer school before becoming eligible “scared off most other schools.”
Wyoming was late to contact Dung, but the Cowboys made the best impression. Newly hired assistant Shaun Vandiver was Dung’s main Wyoming contact. Vandiver had been the head coach at Emporia State, which is less than a 2-hour drive from Neosho County, from 2011-18.
“He kind of came on campus just to speak to me and kind of see where I’m at with my academics,” Dung told the Casper Star-Tribune. “And then from there, he just kind of told me how they play. I’ve seen them play a couple games, and they play just how our team was playing in JUCO. So it wasn’t much of a different style of play that I had to adapt to once I came over here. And then when I came over here, I just liked the facilities that they have. Because I’m trying to get better while I’m here.
“So, ultimately, it was perfect. Because all the other schools, they just called to see if I was eligible, but they never came to talk to me. So once he came to school and talked to me, it was kind of like, ‘OK, these guys (are serious).’ No one does that just to mess around.”
Dung believes Wyoming’s aggressive style of play suits his strengths.
“They play just how I play,” he said. “Everyone can dribble, shoot, pass. So that was the ultimate decision in coming here. Because not many schools allow their bigs or just anyone to grab the ball and push the ball in transition. So that was the main point for me, because I didn’t want to get boxed in.”
Dung expects to play at the small forward but believes he can play power forward as well. He believes he and recent Wyoming graduate Hayden Dalton are comparable — at least on one side of the ball.
“I think H.D., he was kind of similar in terms of skillset, of how I am,” Dung said. “I don’t think I can contribute as much scoring, but I think definitely on defense and rebound, I can definitely do that.”
Given the amount of turnover the Wyoming team has had from last season, Dung believes he can contribute early on in his Wyoming career. The Cowboys have eight new players on the roster headed into head coach Allen Edwards’ third season. Dung has been meshing well with them since arriving in Laramie, he said.
“I don’t do much, so I just hang around my teammates,” he said. “So we get that trust in each other off the court. And when it’s on the court, it just translates.”
Getting acclimated to new surroundings is nothing new for Dung. In fact, he has even had to get accustomed to a new name. His first name was originally spelled “Lual.”
“I was kind of named after my father with L-U-A-L,” said Dung, who is not related to South Sudan-born NBA player Luol Deng. “But when I got to Australia, they kind of messed up the papers. By the time I realized it, I was already in the JUCO system, so it would’ve been not wise to change it, because it would’ve messed up my transcripts from Tallahassee and Neosho. So I just stuck with the one on the paper.”
For now, it’s L-W-A-L. Soon, he could be adding W’s to Wyoming’s record, as well.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com