MEN’S BASKETBALL SMSU: Omot makes rapid transition to college basketball | News, Sports, Jobs
MARSHALL – Basketball has by no means always come easily or simply naturally to Dunwa Omot.
But the 2020 Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School graduate still seems to make him look like this.
Omot, a 6-foot-3 red shirt sophomore at Southwest Minnesota State University, is already having an impact on his young college career. He was averaging 8.5 points per game as of December 15. He was also shooting 57% from the ground and 88% from the line. But what is most impressive is his ability to open up and shoot at 3 points. There he hits 69% of his shots (18 out of 26), an incredible number at any level.
“We always create looks for other people and once my teammates have attracted a few guys I always have my hands ready and I’m lucky to have selfless teammates and they do a good job finding me,” he said. “It was one thing that I was working on was having a quick release, especially at this level, the guys are a lot stronger and faster and they can do it.”
His MVL coach Craig Morgan knew Omot was a special player. But even he was surprised by the work he put into playing the game to the next level to gain immediate playing time.
“What really surprised me is how much stronger he is and looks”, Morgan said. “He has the motivation and the work ethic to be successful at this level, but two years ago when he was in high school I thought it would take a few years before I saw him play the minutes he is now.” . He’s always had a good sense of the court and basketball skills, but the strength he uses now has only added more to his game than many can imagine.
A basketball family
Omot is the second oldest of eight children and the children all played basketball at a young age. The family live in Mankato, but he and his older sister Cham both attended the MVL. Son of Jokoni Omot and Teresa Ochalla, he has two young brothers who play basketball for Mankato East. His brother BJ is a senior and is a Division 1 rookie, and Dunwa has said he’s narrowing his list of schools to around five. He also has a brother who is in his second year on the team and he has younger sisters who also enjoy playing the sport.
“As far back as I can remember, our parents have always had a bullet in their hand” he said. “It’s a sport they fell in love with and they wanted us to pass out for the sport. They did a great job giving us tools and opportunities to play the game we love, whether in high school or up to level, so we hung in there.
Love for basketball continued to grow for Omot as he got older. He is watching the game very closely, even when he’s on the bench, as it helps him study his opponents which gives him an advantage. This anticipation also made him a solid player defensively.
“I think since I was young, knowing what to expect is something that I have always wanted to do” he said. “I was always hungry to learn and see what I could improve.”
Morgan said he was also very open to making changes.
“Dunwa is a student of the game”, Morgan said. “When he’s on the floor or sitting on the bench, he’s always thinking about what he or his teammates can do to be successful. Dunwa learns quickly because he is coachable. He understands that he doesn’t know everything. He’s ready to listen, learn, and make changes and adjustments to his game to be successful.
His career at MVL
Omot played three college seasons at MVL. Meanwhile, he has scored 1,157 career points and was named All-Journal player of the year in his senior year, a season in which he averaged 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3.9 steals. and 3.6 assists per game. He shot 56% from the field that year and 44% from 3 points and he helped the Chargers win a share of the Tomahawk Conference title and a 26-3 record.
His career also came at a time when the Tomahawk conference had incredible talent in the conference. Omot, his MVL teammate Jake Kettner (University of Sioux Falls), Isaac Fink from Springfield (University of Augustana), other SMSU players Jon Zinniel (New Ulm Cathedral) and Alex Hillesheim (cathedral) and Kegan Heiderscheidt ( SMSU) Sleepy Eye graduates are all playing in the NSIC. Heiderscheidt is a red shirt this year.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we represent the Tomahawk conference pretty well and stay the course and stick with it,” he said. “It’s just fun to see us all continue to grow as basketball players and people.”
The next level
The Mustangs (6-4, 2-3 at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) finished 3-8 last year (1-6 at NSIC) after a curtailed COVID season. Meanwhile, Omot also broke his foot in mid-December, so he missed around eight weeks in total and got a late start.
“It was hard” he said of the foot injury. “It was just being patient and trusting the process, that was a huge thing.
“The first thing I did was work on my conditioning, because getting back in shape was my # 1 goal.” said Omot. “Then get my speed back. I just go like I normally play, I get different cuts.
Omot didn’t have a lot of playing time last year, but he used the experience to learn and improve.
“It’s very different from high school, everything is just faster, all the guys are just faster and stronger” he said. “The game is at a different pace, getting used to it is probably the # 1 challenge coming in first year, you just have to adapt to it.
“I’ll probably say the first two goods to come, but you just have to trust yourself mentally, but I think after that you just get a flow of how it’s gonna be over the years.” he said.
He found his role at the start of the current season and it helps to know that his teammates know what they’re supposed to be doing.
“Everyone has their own role in the team” said Omot. “I just give the guys a break, I give all I can when I’m on the pitch and I try my best. “
He has become stronger physically, but there is still work to be done to polish his game.
“I think I’m just working to get stronger first and foremost”, he said. “I was trying to change my body to get used to the game and also to get faster here. It’s always important to know what moves to put on guys and to take a quick first step into this conference. “
Completely healed and stronger this year, Omot took off immediately and is averaging around 21 minutes per game on the bench. He scored 15 points in 19 minutes in the second game of the season against Newman, then scored 16 a week later, including 4 of 4 to 3 points in a game against Davenport.
Omot puts a lot of work on and off the pitch. He said scouting takes a while and they are always well prepared for their games.
“The coaches do a great job giving us scorecards and giving us an idea of what each guy can do.” he said. “Then it’s up to us in the game to remember what they said just to understand it.”
As of now, Omot’s role is one player off the bench. But by next year, that role will likely continue to grow and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he adopts a goalscoring mentality.
“I think staying aggressive is something I always want to do” he said. “The college is coming, it’s going fast, but at the same time, it’s a process. I think my time will come and playing with a lot of selfless teammates really helps and I love playing with these guys, we can do well if we play together.