Last Tuesday, 7-foot-6-inch center Mamadou Ndiaye announced that he will remain in the NBA Draft and ultimately forego his final year of eligibility at UC Irvine.
“After much thought and conversation, I have decided to forego my remaining eligibility to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA,” said Ndiaye in an official statement, “As I officially take this next step in my journey, I want to thank the UC Irvine family that has taken every step with me over the past three years.”
By declaring for the draft on April 7 without hiring an agent, Ndiaye had the decision to either continue on with his last year of eligibility at UC Irvine or pursue a career in professional basketball. Ndiaye worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings in May in hopes of receiving positive feedback before officially deciding to leave school by the May 25 deadline. Ndiaye’s 7-foot-6 frame and 8-foot-1 wingspan makes him the biggest prospect heading into the draft.
“I’ve been trying to talk to him about the things that are important for him to know that he has to do that are different than when you have to think about you representing only yourself and your college,” said head coach Russell Turner. “He’s got a tough road in front of him [and] we’ve talked about the different scenarios of what is likely to happen versus what he is hoping will happen, and yet, I believe completely that great things are possible for Mamadou.”
In his time with the ‘Eaters, Ndiaye won two Big West Defensive Player of the Year awards to go along with a first team all-conference selection his junior season. Ndiaye averaged 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in his last season for UCI, also becoming the all-time leader in blocks with 218. Last season, the ‘Eaters were able to win a total of 28 games, their most in program history. What may be most memorable is Ndiaye being a part of the team that won their first ever Big West Conference tournament (in the 2014-2015 campaign) and played in the school’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“Mamadou is different. There isn’t any question about that, and we’re not going to have another guy like him,” said Turner. “The impact he’s had on the court is really immeasurable, because you can’t measure what he brings to the table, which are points, rebounds, and defense. His presence is a factor and we’re definitely going to miss that.”
Leaving his fate to prospectively interested teams in the U.S. and overseas this summer, Ndiaye has pledged to complete his degree at UCI to accomplish his other life goal apart from professional basketball.
“As a pro, Mamadou is going to get paid to do what he has been doing dominantly here: anchor our defense, rebound and intimidate and those are all things Mamadou can do in a lot places in the world right now,” said Turner. “I think his success as a pro is going to depend how adaptable he can be to what other coaches and teams will want to do with him.”
The NBA Draft will be held in New York at the Barclays Center on June 23.
“My time in Irvine has been filled with unforgettable memories. This school has become my second home,” said Ndiaye in his statement. “From my coaches to the administration to the fans and students who have supported me from day one, thank you all so much. Special thanks to Coach Turner for always being honest with me and helping me to become the man I am today.”