Harouna Mutombo: The Catamount Climb
CULLOWHEE, NC–Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew, Harouna made a solid NCAA splash in his freshman year at Western Carolina.
The Pickering Trojan alumni shared an OFSAA (provincial) championship on a star-studded squad that featured Texas Longhorn point guard, Cory Joseph, Devoe Joseph (Oregon) and Dwayne Smith of George Washington. This Ontario dream team had four D1 NCAA talents on the floor at the same time; a rare statement to make about any high school team in any country.
In Mutombo’s first year as a Catamount, he posted an impressive stat line: 14.4 PPG, 4.6RPG, 2.2APG and 1.8 SPG while logging over thirty minutes per game.
Two years expire and Mutombo is a junior averaging 8.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2 SPG and 1 steal while playing five minutes less.
He suggests the regression has been due to the league adapting to his game with opposing team scouts figuring out his weaknesses.
“It’s all about me finding different ways to score. Teams have taken a lot of my tendencies away and as I evolve as a player, my numbers will go up.”
Mutumbo is a 6’4 guard who scores the majority of his buckets off of penetration and slashing on the wing, but admits that he will need to improve his jumper in order to be a legitimate offensive threat.
“I’m a slasher so if I add the jumper to my game, it will be another dimension,” he explained.
Anytime a player enters a shooting slump, confidence naturally dwindles. The basket shrinks and it seems almost impossible to drain an uncontested elbow jumper. So Mutumbo looked for advice from a couple professional personnel, including one of the NBA’s smoothest shooters.
“Everything is mental, I Just spoke with a lot of my friends from the higher level like Wayne Ellington and Stephen Curry and they gave me a few pointers about getting back into a groove, and it’s helped me tremendously.”
Prior to January, Western Carolina had suffered from Cleveland Cavalier syndrome, as they went winless in the month of December (0-6). It was no coincidence that it was the same time that Mutombo was struggling, managing only five points per contest.
Since 2011 has kicked in, Mutombo has elevated both confidence and statistics which have translated into Catamount victories. Western Carolina is currently on a five-game winning streak moving into today’s game against fellow Ontario native, Jabs Newby and Eastern Kentucky.
As WCU’s season winds down, Harouna will focus on remaining in the gym to possibly make his biggest NCAA splash yet…this time, as a senior.
“Going into my last year I’m going to really take time to stay in the lab and sharpen my skills the most I can.”
Note: Toronto, ON native Keaton Cole is also currently in his junior year at Western Carolina.
Photo Courtesy: Jay LaPrete