Deng Gak signed with Miami as a member of the class of 2017— ranked as the 126th best prospect in the nation and 12th among centers. The four-star recruit was set for a dandy debut in Coral Gables.
However, Jim Larranaga made the decision before the 2017-18 season to redshirt the 6-11 post player out of New Jersey’s Blair Academy.
Ahead of Gak on the depth chart was Dewan Hernandez (then known as Huell) and Ebuka Izundu. The former averaged 11.4 points per game to go along with 6.7 rebounds, while the latter went for five and 3.8 respectively. Such production toughened the position battle for a newcomer last year but will also allow for Gak to grow and complement an already capable set of forwards this campaign.
The Australia-native has proven himself capable of post-up moves, dunks and the ability to shoot from mid-range—often under pressure from defenders. His wingspan also stands at 7’5’’, which is clearly seen on the defensive end.
Before his time in New Jersey, the center played high school basketball in Australia while also playing with the country’s youth team at the FIBA Under-19 World Championship where he was teammates with fellow future Cane DJ Vasiljevic.
Gak is listed as a top five Australian freshman heading into 2018-19 according to the Australian basketball blog The Pick and Roll. Two years ago, Vasiljevic was mentioned on the same watchlist.
And while Gak’s playing time last year was taken by his redshirt, the forward will see more time this season due to the redshirt of Rodney Miller, another big man who will sit the year out to focus on his next two years at UM.