When African kids leave home to pursue their basketball dreams, they typically attend an American prep school or university. Sometimes, they go to Europe instead, and eventually turn pro there.
But Canada? That’s where Senegalese big man Abdoulaye Tanor Ngom has landed. The 7-foot-2 forward/center is enrolled at Ryerson University, located in Toronto.
Ngom, 19, played in developmental programs in Spain and Germany before trekking to Canada. He was recruited this spring by Ryerson head coach Roy Rana, who visited Senegal to work with SEED Academy during its annual “Hoops Forum.”
I met Ngom last month in Dakar and he told me that Michigan State and UConn had expressed some interest.
But in the end, it’s Canada. It’s an interesting choice. Playing to small crowds in hockey country should allow Ngom to develop without a lot of pressure. He only started playing a few years ago.
Still, Rana has high expectations. In the school’s announcement, he said of Ngom: “He’s a legitimate pro prospect at the highest level.”
The Globe and Mail published a good feature on Ngom, as well. In it, Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri says Canada’s basketball reputation is improving, which might attract more African prospects.
That’s certainly possible, although Canada’s athletic scholarships are not as generous as those in the United States.
Ngom has played in Ujiri’s annual Giants of Africa summer camp. He was also selected to play in the 2014 Basketball Without Borders in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ngom effortlessly switches from French to English and also speaks Spanish and German.
Rana is also head coach of Canada’s men’s national team and has an interesting back story himself; his parents were born in India.
Ryerson hopes to dethrone Carleton University as top dog in Canadian collegiate hoops. Read here for an excellent Grantland piece (from 2014) about Carleton.