SALT LAKE CITY — Kur Kuath was a young, tall, athletic, struggling, somewhat-unmotivated teenager at Kearns High when the school's basketball coach asked him a blunt question.
"Are you willing to do what it takes to play?"
"I don't even like basketball enough for that," the underclassman responded.
"Oh," Kearns coach Dan Cosby said, "you'll be tall for nothing."
Kuath accepted his caring coach's challenge, and his life has changed immensely since then — so much so that the 6-foot-9 sophomore signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Oklahoma now that his successful SLCC career has wrapped up.
"We're very excited for Kur to sign with Oklahoma," SLCC coach Todd Phillips said. "Kur has come a long way from having no scholarship offers out of high school to being recruited by major programs all over the country. It's a great tribute to his determination to get better."
It was also announced this week that Kuath, a bouncy big man with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, was named to the NJCAA All-American third team. He was also selected to the All-Region 18 team.
"He's a long, athletic big who rebounds and dunks everything," Phillips said. "He's one of the top shot blockers in junior college. Oklahoma is getting a good kid and a great player."
Kuath averaged 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds with 117 blocks in 33 games. He helped guide SLCC to a 30-4 record; Scenic West, Region 18 and District I titles; and an appearance in the NJCAA national tournament (the Bruins were upset, 79-78, in the first round to eventual champion South Plains).
Kuath was born in Sudan and moved to Kearns after his family fled to the U.S. as refugees when he was a small toddler. His Kearns High team had a terrific run to the 4A title game his senior year.
Phillips called Kuath "a game-changer" because of his length and mobility.
"Blocks are definitely one of my favorite things about playing basketball," Kuath said. "I just let people know, 'Don’t come into my paint.' It's just what I do."
"He was a late bloomer," Cosby said. "He was a good shot blocker, but now he's amazing."