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A growth spurt took him from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-10, while pre-dawn workouts took him from the bench to stardom. Now the next step for Marial Mading is set to happen at the University of Rhode Island.

The three-star forward from Springfield Commonwealth Academy announced a verbal commitment to the Rams Tuesday morning on his Twitter page. He joins Virginia wing Mekhi Long as the second verbal pledge in URI’s class of 2019.

This time last year, Mading was at St. Maria Goretti School in Hagerstown, Maryland, with his star not yet risen. He joined Commonwealth Academy in December and began to emerge in the spring and summer.

“Before he came to us, he was at St. Maria Goretti and he was actually sitting on the bench,” Springfield head coach Walter Mfuko said. “He didn’t have the AAU season the summer before going into St. Maria Goretti either, so he was relatively unknown. And then, he just worked his butt off - 6 a.m. before practice every day, after practice. He really just put in the work. During the spring time, he really started to blossom and that took him to where he is now.”

A Sudanese national who grew up in Australia, Mading came to the United States to chase his basketball dreams. At the time, he was a guard. For Commonwealth Academy, he still plays the position - but he towers above his opponents.

“Extremely versatile,” Mfuko said. “He’s all of 6-10, with a 6-11 wingspan. For us, he plays the guard position. He’s extremely unselfish and he passes at a very high level. He was fortunate enough to go from 6-2 to 6-10 over the course of a two-year period. So his guard skills have really translated. He’s shooting the ball really well for us and he’s a tremendous leader. At the next level, he’s really a three. People always ask, is he actually a 6-10 three, and he really is. He operates really well on ball screens and he shoots it at a pretty good level.”

At the other end of the court, Mading’s height and length may lead him to the paint.

“He’s defending well,” Mfuko said. “He can improve a little bit on-ball with smaller guys. He does better with bigger guys. But he really protects the rim well with his size.”

According to 247sports.com, Mading had offers from Hofstra, Quinnipiac and Tulane, with interest from Connecticut, St. John’s and Oregon State.

“I think the biggest thing for him was relief. He was feeling a lot of pressure,” Mfuko said. “He had a great amount of love for the coaching staff at Tulane, but ultimately, choosing Rhode Island was the better fit for him. And you could just see, it was like a weight coming off. All the pressure was gone. Now he can really just focus on winning this year and getting ready for next year at URI.”

He hopes the next step includes a lot of victories.

“He really puts a premium on winning,” Mfuko said. “Winning and culture were huge for him. With the Hurley regime and now the Cox regime, they’ve done a lot of winning. He really wants to play in March. And just the culture. He really liked being around the guys. He believes coach Carroll, with his NBA experience, coach Sutton, coach Boswell and coach Cox can really get him to that next level, which is ultimately his goal.”

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