North Texas Daily

Meet Deng Geu: The Journeyman

Meet Deng Geu: The Journeyman

Meet Deng Geu: The Journeyman
January 17
13:33 2020

Getting acclimated to new surroundings has never been difficult for North Texas forward Deng Geu. After being born and raised in Uganda, Deng moved to North Dakota at the age of six. He lived there for most of his life before moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he enrolled in Washington High School.

“The first couple of years they really take care of you and help you adjust,” Geu said. “You get government assistance and stuff like that, and they always check in on you. Then after a while, you start to get used to it and living on your own. Plus, we have family in the area, so they helped us adjust too.” 

Growing up with four brothers and two sisters, Geu was competitive. Throughout his childhood, his family participated in sports. Both his brothers played basketball in high school, and everyone he knew growing up would play in the park. Driven by his competitive edge, Geu focused his skills on the hardwood and became a high school sensation in South Dakota. During his senior year, Geu averaged 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game and was awarded South Dakota’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

His primary offers out of high school were from North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State. All were close to home, but Geu ultimately settled on North Dakota State due to their intense pursuit. 

“I went to middle school in North Dakota, so that’s why I chose to go there,” Geu said. “I developed and met a lot of people. I had a good time over there.”

After redshirting his first year, Geu averaged 4.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 11.9 minutes during his next two years. In his final year at North Dakota State, Geu averaged 9.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 18.3 minutes for a Bison team that went to the NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round to the No. 1 seeded Duke Blue Devils 85-62.

One of the most memorable experiences Geu faced in the tournament was going up against Zion Williamson, the 2019 NBA No. 1 overall pick of the New Orleans Pelicans. After that matchup, Geu was frequently asked what it was like to play against him.

“That was the first question I asked him,” senior guard DJ Draper said. “He probably gets tired of it, but he says it’s awesome and the experience of going there was surreal, but it’s all worth it, so it’s a good thing to look forward to.”

“I’ve gotten that question every day right after that tournament for about 10 months,” Geu said jokingly. “It was good … he’s a really good and really talented player … he just dunked everything.”  

Despite the success he had at North Dakota State, Geu felt he was playing the same role every year and wanted to try something new. So, he decided to enter his name in the transfer portal. This past summer became a whole new recruitment experience for him.

“It was a lot more crazy transferring than coming out of high school. There were a lot more schools, big schools too,” Geu said. “But it was more about fit than just the name of the school. All the coaches really made me feel comfortable. I had people that were close to me that knew the coaches, and they had really respectful things to say about them.”  

Head coach Grant McCasland saw Geu as “an excellent post player” and with already having junior forward Zachary Simmons on the roster, he felt like both of them on the court could put pressure on defenses with their size and athleticism.

“We felt like we could add a guy that has the same rebounding prowess that’s allowed us to be good, plus the experience of winning,” McCasland said. “That was something that this team needed, especially at that position because with Thomas [Bell] being new and Abdul [Mohamed] not playing last year, we felt like we needed some experience there to go with Zach, and he’s definitely been better than we could have hoped for.”

After visiting two weeks prior, Geu officially signed on to play for the Mean Green on May 1, 2019.

Despite North Texas turning over to a completely different roster this year with six new additions including himself, Geu said the adjustment period was great. He credited the coaches and their team-building activities throughout the summer as a reason behind the smooth transition.

Geu established himself as a skillful player and leader on the court after briefly practicing with teammates.

“He’s really athletic. He can shoot, dribble … just a skilled player,” Draper said. “Off the court he’s a really nice guy, always smiling and there for his teammates.”

Last year, Simmons was featured in guard-heavy starting lineups from the 1-4 positions, but with a sizable frontcourt partner this year in Geu, it’s paying dividends.

“He’s been a big-time leader. He’s a fifth-year senior coming in as an older guy with a lot of experience,” Simmons said. “He’s been to places where we want to be, including the tournament, so he has that wisdom to kind of shine on the younger guys and even for us older guys.”

This year, Simmons is averaging fewer points and rebounds by a small margin due to a decrease in minutes compared to last season. However, Simmons’ field goal percentage has improved due to Geu’s offensive and defensive presence around the rim.

“It definitely helps take some pressure off, especially when it comes to rebounding,” Simmons said. “Rebounding is a big thing for us, and [Geu]’s really good in there, but even on the offensive end, just giving me more space to work. There’s another emphasis down low so opposing teams are not just keying in on one person inside. So, it’s nice to have him out there.”

Coming into the season, Geu worked on slowing down and reading the floor while seeing what the other team was doing and reacting.

So far this season, the 6’8, 201-pound forward is averaging 8.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. While his numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, his impact has been noticeable in the eyes of his coaches and teammates. In the teams’ Conference USA home opener, Geu recorded a season-high four blocks against a lengthy Florida International team. 

Regarding his low numbers, Geu said he doesn’t have to score to make an impact on the court. 

“Coming in my mindset is I’m gonna try to defend and rebound as best as I can,” Geu said. “Everything else just seems to flow and take care of itself so I primarily focus on those two things.”

One thing Geu wants to continue working on is his outside shot. He worked on it all summer, but shots haven’t been falling for him this season. He’s currently averaging a career-low 9.5 3-point percentage, but according to Geu, he’s going to continue to keep shooting and perfecting it. 

One of Geu’s biggest goals this year is to return to the tournament. With his past experience, Geu describes the feeling as “addicting,” and he’s excited about his team’s chances this year. Geu believes that the non-conference schedule was the best thing for the team as it brought a challenge for a new group of players coming together and he’s excited to lead it. 

“Being one of the older guys and knowing it’s my fifth year, I’ve definitely come in with that mindset that I’m going to help lead this team and do whatever the team needs to get back into that tournament,” Geu said.

Featured Image: Graduate forward Deng Geu works on his dribble and pick up to look for an open teammate in practice on Jan. 13, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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