A tiny private school of just 250 students and no gym is hardly where one would expect to find the next great NBA star. However, that is precisely where Mamadou Ndiaye can be found for the next year and a half. At 7-foot-5-inches, Ndiaye is not only likely the tallest high school basketball player in the world, but he stands two inches taller than anyone currently playing in the NBA. The 310-pound, 18-year-old high school junior averages an impressive 22.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per game.
Ndiaye, born in Senegal, arrived in the U.S. in September of 2010. He lives with American guardians, a married couple, which lives close to his school. Neither Ndiaye nor his guardians will speak to the media, so the story of how he came to America is not clear.
What is known, however, is that Ndiaye was spotted by Amadou Koundoul, also a native of Senegal. At the time, Koudoul was working as an assistant coach at UC Irvine. Koudoul said, “There’s only one indoor gym in Senegal. It wasn’t hard to find Mamadou.”
Next thing he knew, Ndiaye was enrolled at Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, California.
“We offer F-1 visas, which attracts foreign students,” said the school’s business manager, Scott Arnold.
An MRI was soon performed on Ndiaye to test for gigantism. The MRI revealed a golfball-sized tumor on pituitary gland, which is the likely source of his unusual size. The tumor was also impinging upon Ndiaye’s optic nerve. In order to avoid losing his sight, Ndiaye underwent two surgeries to remove the tumor. The surgeries were paid for by “charitable donations.”
Ndiaye’s high school has received calls from the Guinness Book of World Records. “Our school wouldn’t cooperate with them,” Brethren Christian’s coach, Jon Bahnsen, said, “but Guinness probably wanted to see if he was the world’s tallest high school basketball player.”
There are also daily calls from college scouts looking to recruit him, of course. In the meantime, Ndiaye is enjoying playing with his high school team and just trying to fit in—as much as a 7-foot-5 individual can.
“He’s the best person I’ve ever been around in my life,” Koudoul said. “It’s hard for him to do anything without people gawking at him, but he handles it well.”
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