Standing Tall

Nick Marietti, Staff Reporter

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In a game where the average height of a Division I College basketball center is 6’9, it’s tough to stand out. When you’re a 7’6 center, you stand out wherever you go. Mamadou N’Diaye and Tacko Fall are both 7’6 centers from Senegal playing at a low Division I Basketball College. Though their height connects them synonymously towards each other, these two players are not totally even in terms of their situations in maturity.

N’Diaye plays basketball for the Anteaters of UC Irvine in Irvine, California. N’Diaye is averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game this year (career high in both). The junior center from Senegal is ranked as the #27 NBA draft prospect in the junior class. N’Diaye is averaging a career high in average minutes and showing NBA scouts that he is a capable NBA player. Coming out of high school, N’Diaye participated in the Amar’e Stoudemire Nike Skills Camp and had people notice him as he truly dominated his part of the camp and opened the eyes of many people. N’Diaye has steadily increased over his college career, as shown in his constant increase in points, rebounds, and minutes per game. N’Diaye is truly becoming a true force to be reckoned with the way his game is evolving.

Surprisingly, N’Diaye isn’t the only 7’6 center in the NCAA. Tacko Fall is in his freshman year at UCF (University of Central Florida) and is putting up similar numbers that N’Diaye had in his freshman year. Fall is averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes this year. Wouldn’t it be expected for Fall to average more points and rebounds per game than an average of 8 and 5? Well, Fall is only averaging 17 minutes a game, during a 40 minute game. This speaks to his lack of conditioning or lack of experience in the college game. Fall is still getting accustomed to the intensity and speed of the college game, which is normal for freshman. In Fall’s first season as a junior at Liberty Christian Prep high school, Fall averaged 11 points and 5 rebounds per game. In his senior season, Fall sky rocketed to averaging 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks per game. This is an indicator that Fall shouldn’t be judged this year, but what he does next year could catapult him into the NBA. Fall isn’t just a basketball player, he also defines the term “student athlete”. Fall had a 4.0 GPA in high school while being the #94 prospect in the nation. The pressure of being a top 100 high school player did not let Fall get away from his academics which is an encouraging sign of his ability to multi task and handle pressure.

What would happen if these two living mammoth-like players played against each other? Well, they faced at the beginning of the year with many eyes surrounding the game. The stats they had against each other are very deceiving considering N’Diaye was in foul trouble for much of the game. N’Diaye and UC Irvine did leave Florida with a win as they defeated Fall and the UCF Knights 61-60. One of the beauties of basketball is the effect that one player can have on a team, no matter what the height or weight of the player is. When you’re 7’6 and coordinated, you’re an automatic game changer, like Tacko Fall and Mamadou N’Diaye, who stand much taller above the rest of us.

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