Judge allows Sudanese students to play basketball - FOX 32 News Chicago

Judge allows Sudanese students to play basketball

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Three Sudanese basketball players can play for a suburban Chicago school's team thanks to a Kane County judge--but their long-term future on the team remains in doubt.

The three boys moved to Mooseheart two years ago. Makur Puou, a 6'10'' junior, and two others boys, who stand at 6'4'' and 7' are from the Sudan. They are varsity basketball players at Mooseheart School in Batavia giving their small school in the western suburbs hope for a good season. A fourth teenager from Africa ran cross-country.

"I am very happy. I'm very happy to play tonight," says Puou. "I really appreciate it. I know I came to the United Sates to get an education and play basketball."

But now, the reason for their move to America is being questioned.

"We really felt they fit our mission of children in need coming from a war-torn country that has had decades of civil war unrest and an opportunity to honor the memory of Manute Bol and helping children from his country," says Scott Hart with Mooseheart Child City and School."

School officials say they sat out one year but when a rival school saw the boys play, that coach lodged a complaint with the Illinois High School Association claiming Mooseheart "was seeking out athletes, and basketball players in particular."

The small residential school disputes the IHSA's contention, saying school officials told the agency that placed the teens that it would take Sudanese children whether or not they were athletes.

Judge David Akemann ruled Tuesday that the teens couldn't be benched until the Illinois High School Association hears arguments on the eligibility issue. That means the association can't prevent them from playing until an IHSA hearing next week in Bloomington.

"The district will have nothing to do with recruiting any student athletes," says Peter Rush, the school's attorney.

The team will play their big rival Wednesday night.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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