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From France to Oklahoma

February 21, 2013 by  


By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Senegalese-French basketball player Amath M’Baye left France for a better basketball future. His path first led him to a prep school in California, then over to the big skies of the University of Wyoming before settling down at the University of Oklahoma. He first enrolled at Oklahoma in the fall of 2011, and he practiced with the team during the 2011-2012 season, but did not play in any games due to NCAA transfer rules.

Prior to that, he played his first two college seasons at the University of Wyoming. During his Freshman he played in 21 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per contest after having missed the first 10 games of the season due to an NCAA ruling on his amateurism. But the next year, in his Sophomore season he started all 31 games and averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per outing for a 10-21 Cowboys team.

But despite making strides, he was still finding himself as a basketball player at Wyoming. “I was not very comfortable outside the paint when I was in Wyoming,” M’Baye said. “I could do stuff but it wasn’t my strength. I think I kind of expanded my game. I feel comfortable in the post and outside the paint, I’ve got more tools to work with. I’ve got more weapons to be a threat on the defenses.” And it became clear that he would not be staying in Big Sky country for very long. “A lot of things went good but not everything was great. We lost a lot of games and my coach (Heath Schroyer) got fired,” M’Baye said. “I pretty much knew I was going to leave before my coach got fired. But my coach got fired, and I started looking for new teams and new schools.”

Making Oklahoma his next stop was an easy choice for M’Baye, especially with coach Lon Kruger being there. “Everywhere he’s been, the program ends up with success. There’s no mystery, there’s no magic. He works the right way,” M’Baye told Fox News about Coach Kruger. “When you look at the players we’ve got and the recruiting class coming in, I don’t see how we could not play well. There’s no reason for us not to play well. There’s no excuses.”

Born in Bordeaux, France, M’Baye didn’t start playing basketball until his mid-teens. He went on to play on the 2009 Under-20 French national team that earned the silver medal at the Under-20 European Championships. He then made the decision to leave home after meeting coach Babacar Sy, the renowned Senegalese-American coach from Stoneridge Prep in California. He was lightly recruited and then signed with Wyoming to follow best friend and fellow Frenchman Arthur Bouedo.

An International Studies major, M’Baye has already shown enough leadership for his Oklahoma teammates to vote him a team captain before he even played a game. “I think the journey through life makes me appreciate life even better,” M’Baye said. “I’ve been through a lot of stuff and I think every year I’m in a better situation. I couldn’t have landed anywhere better than here,” he added. “It was a tumultuous ride but I think at the end of the day, I landed exactly where I want to be.” But this may not be his last stop, as the National Basketball Association could come calling. NBADraft.net currently rates M’Baye as a second round draft pick this coming June.

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