Kuol wants to be NBL’s King of defence

Jasper Bruce |

Bul Kuol wants to become the NBL’s best defender in his first season with the Sydney Kings.
Bul Kuol wants to become the NBL’s best defender in his first season with the Sydney Kings.

Sydney Kings recruit Bul Kuol has set himself the lofty goal of becoming the best defender in the NBL, and he believes Brian Goorjian is the man to help him achieve that dream.

The 2021/22 NBL rookie of the year arrives at the Kings after three seasons with the Cairns Taipans, recording career-best figures for points and assists per game in the most recent campaign.

As the Kings continue to reconfigure their roster under new coach Goorjian, Kuol looms as the likely first-choice shooting guard, a spot filled by Denzel Valentine with mixed success last season.

The signings of Kuol, Xavier Cooks and Izayah Le’Afa are also set to rejuvenate the Kings’ defence after a disappointing campaign under Mahmoud Abdelfattah, in which the side leaked the second-most points of any team.

A defensive focus will suit Kuol just fine.

“I want to be the best defender in the league, I want to sharpen my tools defensively,” the 27-year-old told AAP.

“There’s a lot of errors I’ve got to fix from last year. For me, it’s just can I be a good defender every night? 

“Can I be the best defender every night? Can I defend multiple positions? Can I do it without fouling? Defence is my biggest strength and I really want to solidify it.”

Former Cairns Taipans player Bul Kuol (left).
Former Cairns Taipans player Bul Kuol (left) drives past the Perth Wildcats’ Bryce Cotton. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Kuol attracted interest from around the NBL after deciding he needed a change of scenery.

“It was just time, three years is a long time,” he said of his decision to leave the Taipans.

“I think I did everything that I could in Cairns.”

Kuol eventually had to make a choice between the Kings and South East Melbourne Phoenix, who are rebuilding their own roster ahead of Mike Kelly’s second season in charge.

But Kuol said he could not resist the chance to work with six-time NBL championship-winning coach Goorjian at a side with recent success.

“It was an easy choice,” Kuol said.

“Sydney is a championship-calibre team every year, they have high expectations, it’s a pressure environment. 

“‘Goorj’ coming in here, he’s someone who’s not messing around. 

“When he spoke to me, he basically told me where I was at and where he could help me, where he could further my game. 

“He’s a defensive-oriented coach. He wants guys to guard the ball, so I knew his style of play suited me.”

Ahead of the NBL season that begins in spring, Kuol will join a training camp ahead of South Sudan’s first-ever Olympic campaign.

The Bright Stars named their 50-man extended squad for that camp this week, with Phoenix Suns centre Bol Bol, ex-Australian representative Thon Maker and NBL players such as Jackson Makoi, Lat Mayen and Kouat Noi among others to have made the cut.

“It means a lot, especially to my Mum and my family,” Kuol said of his selection.