Los Angeles Preps: Rick Niswonger
February, 2, 2012
By Sean Ceglinsky | ESPNLosAngeles.com
HUNTINGTON BEACH -- Heads turn. Jaws drop. Gasps follow. Cameras flash.
The circumstance does not matter. The second Mamadou Ndiaye steps onto the basketball court in uniform or exits the gym in civilian clothes afterward, the junior from Brethren Christian draws plenty of attention. It's something that simply comes along with the territory when you are 7 feet, 5 inches tall.
That is not a typo. Ndiaye is 7 feet 5.
Courtesy of Art RamosAt 7-foot-6, Mamadou Ndiaye's decision to sign with UC-Irvine was a big surprise -- literally.
An unassuming teenager seemingly in a grown man's body. An overgrown man's body, that is. An 18-year old underclassman from Senegal with a future that appears to be limitless given his improving skill set. The upside Ndiaye possesses is off the charts, in fact. A college scholarship almost certainly waits in the wings. A career in the NBA thereafter remains a distinct possibility.
You can't teach size, after all.
Perhaps most interesting, aside from his potential path in life, is the somewhat mysterious journey Ndiaye has been on so far, as well as the tight-lipped nature of Ndiaye and those closest to him.
“Things have been crazy around our little high school lately,'' Brethren Christian coach Jon Bahnsen said. “We've had camera crews here for Mamadou every day the past month or so. He's been all over the local news and papers, on websites; it's been overwhelming. Everyone wants to know more about Mamadou. I'm consistently getting calls from college coaches and scouts interested in him too. To be honest, he doesn't like the attention.''
Video of Ndiaye's exploits on the hardwood have circulated all over the country -- and world, for that matter -- the past couple of weeks. Not surprisingly, he has become an Internet sensation of sorts. As of Thursday, one of his YouTube clips has more than 660,000 hits. Another is closing in on 525,000.
For those hoping to catch a glimpse of Ndiaye -- he averages 23 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks -- the Warriors (18-5 overall) play at Newport Beach Crean Lutheran on Friday night.
Receiving recognition on a regular basis, however, does not seem to sit particularly well with Ndiaye. His legal guardians refuse to speak with the media and have not allowed him to share his side of the story with reporters since Ndiaye's arrival at Brethren Christian around this time last year.
When approached, Ndiaye is non-confrontational. Often times, he prefers to offer up a big smile and the occasional: “What's up...” Aside from that, he and his camp mostly keep quiet.