Video: 7-foot-6 Mamadou N'Diaye in high schoolBrethren Christian center towered over the competition.
For a kid who could barely get up and down court when he first started playing basketball, Mamadou N'Diaye
has come a long way.See more photos of Mamadou N'Diaye in high school
Born in Dakar, Senegal, N'Diaye played soccer — not basketball — as a youth, but then picked up the game when he moved the U.S. as a teen. He didn't speak English, which was a problem, but not like the golf ball-sized tumor found in his pituitary gland, which caused his massive growth. It's also why he had such trouble at first, getting up and down the court.
He eventually learned English — his fifth language — and how to play basketball. He eventually found his way to Brethren Christian (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
, where he averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds a game his junior season. He upped that to 27 points, 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocks as a senior, which earned him a college scholarship to UC Irvine.
He was the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman last season and now he leads the Anteaters as a sophomore into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. All eyes will be on him — as is the case whenever he's on the court — on Friday when Irvine, the 13th seed, takes on heavily favorite No. 4 seed Louisville in the East Region.
N'Diaye has played in just 14 of 33 games because of a foot injury and averages 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 19.1 minutes per game. He's blocked 24 shots and changed countless others.