NCAA Football

Mike Sharavjamts of Dayton is the rookie who makes history in Mongolia

You wouldn’t know an entire nation’s eyes were on Mike Sharavjamts. The true 6’8” Dayton Flyers rookie caught a pass right in front of the Lindenwood bench just seconds into the Flyers’ rookie game of the 2022-23 season, lifted it and hit the nylon.

Sharavjamts, ranked No. 91 this year in the overall draft by 24/7 Sports, finished with a totally respectable 10 points, five assists and three rebounds in his first college game. For his thousands of fans around the world, the confident debut was cause for celebration. Sharavjamts is the first Mongolian athlete to win a Division 1 scholarship, and he is only the second true freshman to start at Dayton in a decade.

In attendance was Mike’s father, Sharavjamts Tserenjankhar, better known as Shark. Shark was a star in the local leagues at 7-foot-tall Ulan Bator until he was discovered by former LSU coach Dale Brown (who also discovered 12-year-old Shaquille O’Neal at a German military base). Brown thought Tserenjankhar might be one of the best players in college basketball, until he found out he was 27. Instead, Tserenjankhar signed a contract with the Harlem Globetrotters and became Mongolia’s first professional basketball player.

Basketball has been slowly growing in popularity in Mongolia in the following decades. A recent estimate claims that 20,000 children are playing organized basketball in the capital right now. Three in three is the preferred format; the Mongolian men’s team finished in the top 10 at two of the last three FIBA ​​3×3 World Cups, and the women’s team qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

All this buzz means that Mike Sharavjamts has more fans than the average freshman. There is the Mongolian Dayton Flyers fan page on Facebook with 15,000 followers. A major Mongolian news network took a film crew to Ohio to make a documentary about him, the trailer had 250,000 views.

The attention seems well justified. Through displays and his first real game, Sharavjamts showed deft fists and a solid outside kick for someone his size. But his most impressive feature has been his passing and playing ability. On several occasions in the season opener, Sharavjamts brought the ball onto the court and created the offense, whether driving to the rim, kicking to a pitcher beyond the arc, or posting and forcing defensive help.

The Flyers narrowly missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season and are heading into the 2022-23 campaign standings with aspirations of a deep run for the first time in 9 years. With a potential young star in hand, they can make that leap.

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