Mayo graduate Makuei Riek opens latest basketball chapter at Missouri prep school

Mayo graduate Makuei Riek has found a new home, playing basketball for and going to school at We Are United Prep School in Missouri.

Former Mayo player Makuei Riek (2) dunks the ball during a game against Century his junior season in 2021.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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NIXA, Mo. — Robert Yanders believes that Makuei Riek has the kind of talent that could land him in the NBA one day.

Yanders is the head coach of We Are United Prep School in Nixa, Mo., where Riek is playing this year after graduating from Rochester Mayo High School in the spring. Riek appreciates those words of encouragement. But the smooth and athletic 6-foot-6 guard won’t allow himself much time to bask in them.

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“I take that kind of compliment and I respect it and appreciate it, but I take it with a grain of salt,” said Riek, who early this month signed to play for Division I University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee next year. “The NBA could be me, but if I’m ever to get there, I have to put in the work. I have to keep working, one step at a time, by doing what I need to do every day. Eventually I’m going to get to wherever God is going to lead me.”

Where that is now is Nixa, a town of 23,000 in the southwestern corner of Missouri and playing for Yanders, a former professional player who was once coached by current Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch, while playing in England.

Yanders, a 2002 Missouri State University graduate where he was a star guard, is in his second year of operating this prep school team.


Riek found a home there after few basketball scholarship offers came his way following his senior year at Mayo. He put his name out as someone searching for a prep school in order to further build his game and promote himself.

Yanders saw film of Riek, was impressed and gave him an immediate call. A couple of days later, Riek committed to his program.

For Riek, who averages 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists per game while playing with a team that takes on a national schedule, it’s been an ideal fit.

“It’s a great environment to grow as a player and as a man,” Riek said. “I’m at a place where I can really get to be who I truly am, without any outside influences. I can grow and make mistakes and be around people who hold me accountable. So, this is serious. It allows me to be my best by holding me accountable in every way.”

It also allows Riek, who takes online classes at the school, to hone in on basketball like never before.

Forever a gym rat and one who attained much of his basketball growth under the tutelage of highly regarded Rochester basketball trainer Dale Young, Riek is now not only getting elite basketball oversight at We Are United Prep, but he’s surrounded by teammates who are as committed to the game as him.

That has also been a difference maker.

“These guys love the game as much as me,” Riek said. “It’s fun to be with them on and off the court. They are amazing to be around. We all need a certain environment to grow, and coach (Yanders) has blessed us with an amazing environment.”


Yanders has been thrilled with what he’s gotten so far from Riek.

“Makuei has length and size and an ability to score the ball in so many ways,” Yanders said. “He’s also got great jumping ability. He could eventually be in the NBA with that feel for the game he has and his ability with the ball at 6-6.”

That’s not to say that Yanders is content with Riek’s development. It’s his job not to be. So, he is demanding some things from Riek, such as making the game “simpler” by often being content to just catch the ball and shoot it without putting it on the floor first, and to dampen his basketball flair just a bit.

“Makuei can sometimes make the game more difficult than it has to be,” Yanders said. “But he is an exciting player; I love to see what he’s got next. Plus, he’s got a great, bubbly personality. He’s likable and has an infectious thing about him.”

As much as Riek is enjoying this latest chapter in his basketball life, he can’t wait for what’s ahead.

Next year, he will be at UW-Milwaukee, having realized his childhood dream of playing Division I basketball. It’s what he’s forever been working toward.

When he signed his official letter of intent with UW-Milwaukee on Nov. 9, it was special.

“This is something I’ve been working toward for so long,” Riek said. “It was almost surreal when I signed. But I knew it would happen.”

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or
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