Some might remember the story aired by WHOtv in February of 2014 that told the tale of a former McDonalds All-American, Glendon Alexander, and his fall from grace as the head coach of now-defunct prep school, ABCD Prep. Alexander had neglected to pay bills on housing for his team and jeopardized his players' NCAA eligibility.
The story itself stuck out from the typical ho-hum Des Moines news cycle, but what caused people to flock to YouTube in search of more was a short clip of the team's star and apparent Iowa State recruit, Emmanuel Malou. The name was almost completely unheard of to the general public, but the content they found sent online fan communities into a frenzy. He was 6-foot-9, pouring in 3's, throwing in dunks with ease, and running the floor like no one's business.
People weren't quite sure what to think, except that it was unbelievable for someone who seemed that talented to not be on any major program's radar. For some, it was so "out there" that it was labeled (jokingly) as a hoax. Even if he was real, there was no way he'd actually end up on Iowa State's campus - or any campus, for that matter. Just another name on the list of the Norvel Pelles of the world... Too good to be true.
Fast forward nearly a year and a half, and Steve Prohm's Iowa State team has it's newest commit in Emmanuel Malou, who has something to say about that:
"I don't want to be rude to anyone, but yes, I am real."
Malou's story goes further than just a news story and a commitment however. He says his decision came so soon largely because he "wanted to reschedule his visit to watch a basketball game instead, and figured he might as well just commit now."
Born in Kenya, Malou (pronounced mah-LOO) moved to Australia at the age of two, but hardly played sports until he was 14.
"I grew up not really playing sports, I wasn't too excited about them," Malou said. But that changed with one simple discovery. "I was probably 5'10 or 5'11 and 14 years old when I dunked for the first time. After that, I fell in love with basketball. It got exciting after I could dunk."
Malou didn't let the passing curiosity with dunking pass, and began honing the rest of his craft.
"I was just hooked, I loved basketball now, and I worked my ass--er sorry--butt off to get better at it," Malou said. It was shortly after this that he would make his first big jump into making his dream a reality. "After that, I ended up coming to St. Thomas More, a prep school in Connecticut. I played with Andre Drummond there, who plays in the NBA now for the Pistons, but I got hurt and had to move back to Australia."
After finishing 11th grade in Australia, the big man decided he wanted to return to prep school, any prep school, in America to showcase his skills. A mentor of Malou reached out to the aforementioned Glendon Alexander requesting a spot on Alexander's ABCD Prep roster, to which he agreed.
"We didn't know too much at all about Glendon [Alexander], so I just went with it, and was doing as much research as I could before I had to leave. I just wanted to get back into prep school in America," Malou said.
At this point, Malou's story might start to get more familiar with our readers. As was uncovered by the investigative report by WHO, Alexander had been neglecting to pay bills for housing, team vehicles and gym space at ABCD Prep.
"It was definitely a whole lot different than I expected, it was almost all international kids during my first ear. [Glendon] had us living in a hotel in West Des Moines, sharing rooms, like five guys to a room, and some guys were pissed. I definitely didn't think it would be like that," Malou said. "But we stuck through it."
Malou returned to Australia at the end of the season, but came back for a second year, during which Alexander filled the roster with American kids, making Malou the only international player. Glendon also ended up renting two houses for the team to stay in. This, however, did not last, as the team was later evicted and Malou left for his home in Australia before season's end.
"It was just getting bad, I had to go home," Malou said.
At this point in his international journey, Malou had received heavy interest from Iowa State, but due to the academic standards at ABCD, was not able to qualify academically with the NCAA. Yet, Malou is not bitter towards his former coach.
"Glendon had really good intentions for his players, he just didn't follow through with them," Malou said. "He helped me in a lot of ways, but there were a lot of ways he could have also done a lot more, like helping me become eligible."
Alexander, Malou maintains, still wanted the best for all of his athletes.
"In terms of basketball, he taught me so much, and I learned a lot from him. He taught me how to be a pro and how to prepare. When I played for him, he made me the man of the team, and he showed me how to take over games. I got better playing for him," Malou said. "Glendon was just very basketball minded."
Malou has not shut the door on his former coach either.
"We still talk, but barely. He'll text me once or so a month. Not very much though."
While Malou hoped to attend Iowa State out of ABCD, he instead opted to attend Yuba College in Marysville, CA, where he averaged 14.7 points and 8.5 rebounds a game while shooting 47% from the three point line in his freshman year. Malou is even more excited for the upcoming season.
"Last year I was playing the 4 or 5, which was OK, but this upcoming season I'm going to start playing more of my natural small forward position," Malou said. "I'm really going to explode."
Any inspiration for that 'natural small forward' position?
"If I had to compare my game to anyone, I'd want to compare it to Kevin Durant. I know I can't shoot as well as him yet, but I want to develop into being that long, lanky scorer type player."
That versatility hadn't gone unnoticed, as Malou chose Iowa State over a slew of other high major offers including Kansas and Arizona State, as well as the next level.
"I actually declared for the NBA Draft after a workout with the Bulls last year, but pulled my name back out," Malou said. "I was just trying to get my name out there."
Instead, Malou will join a Cyclone basketball team that will run a similar system to the one that excited him out of prep school.
"It's uptempo, it's an NBA style, and Coach Prohm really lets the players run," Malou said. "I'm glad I can say I'm a Cyclone officially now."