Big Future for Mamadou Ndiaye

Mamadou Ndiaye stands tall among his competitors

Amongst his competitors on the floor, Mamadou Ndiaye looks like a giant, a behemoth among men. Whether it be dunking on his opponents or reaching over heads to grab rebounds, Ndiaye overpowers others with his height and lankiness. The 7'5" Ndiaye in his limited time has shown characteristics of a star. The combination of his height with a 8'1" wingspan provides him with the overreaching arms that help him dominate his opponents. Ndiaye is just one of a string of tall players who look to make an impact on college basketball this coming season. With his height, Ndiaye will become the tallest player in college basketball.

Like many African basketball players before him, Ndiaye is as much the example of a raw talent as any other. Having only begun to pick up a basketball in 2011, Ndiaye has major upside in terms of development. The Senegalese born basketball player’s journey from his native country to a college basketball player in the United States is quite noteworthy. A rollercoaster ride for Ndiaye, his transition from Senegal to United States was not simple. In September 2010, Amadou Koundoul, an assistant coach for UC Irvine spotted Ndiaye in a local gym during his trip to Senegal. From there, his basketball career began.

Ndiaye a year later found himself enrolled at Stoneridge Prep, a school in Simi Valley, California that offers F-1 visas for foreign students. But things turned sour for Ndiaye when it was revealed that he had tumor the size of a golf ball in his pituitary gland following an MRI. Doctors recognized that the tumor caused much of his growth and that unless removed could cause possible blindness in the future. With the aid of some generous donations, Ndiaye was able to have the tumor removed following two surgeries.

But the instability for Ndiaye did not end there. Following his two surgeries, he transferred to Brethren Christian High School(CA) where he truly found his passion and knack for basketball. With the assistance of his guardians, Ndiaye blossomed as a center starring for the Warriors. During his junior year, Ndiaye averaged 24.0 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 5.0 blocks per game. These numbers earned him national attention and video clips of him playing have gone viral on Youtube.

By the end of his junior year, colleges came calling. By the beginning of senior year, he was already fielding offers from Georgetown, UC Irvine, and Pepperdine. Scouts were impressed with his physical attributes and intangibles. Many have taken note of his strong work ethic and ability to learn quickly.

Despite this praise, scouts have noticed that Ndiaye is a one-dimensional player at this stage. Jon Bahnsen, his coach at Brethren Christian, stated, “Right now his game is basically catch, turn, drop-step, dunk.” His moves are limited and questions about athleticism have risen. At times, Ndiaye looks clumsy with the ball and is slow to react to developing plays. Although he is a strong player in paint, Ndiaye truly has a long ways to go before he can master the center position.

Early in his senior year, Ndiaye officially committed to play for UC Irvine. Ndiaye said "I chose UC Irvine because I felt very comfortable at the university and with the coaching staff.  It is an excellent school that will help me develop as a student and basketball player." Of Ndiaye’s decision to sign with UC Irvine, Coach Russell Turner stated, "I'm excited to add a player of Mamadou's quality and character to our program.”

Throughout much of his senior year, Ndiaye worked to refine his basketball skills and learn basic fundamentals of the game. After another solid season on the court for Brethren Christian in which he averaged 27.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game during his senior year, Ndiaye looks as though he has made some adjustments to his game. He has made some progress in both the mental and physical aspects. However, questions remain about how well his game will translate to success in college.

His story is remarkable. From his homeland of Senegal to a nationally recognized basketball player, Ndiaye's road was not easy. Although he has already accomplished quite a bit for a young man, he still has a long way to go if he wants to reach his dreams, the NBA. Only he controls his future. Yet, if he can overcome his flaws on the court, Ndiaye can truly turn into something special.