UC Irvine Inks 7-Foot-5 Senegalese Center

On Tuesday, UC Irvine nearly shocked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, falling 80–79 in overtime. But next year, the Anteaters will have a presence in the middle that might take them over the top against the Bruins.

Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-5 center originally from Senegal now playing for Huntington Beach Brethren Christian, signed with Irvine on Wednesday. (It’s worth noting that he’s not to be confused with former Auburn center Mamadou N’Diaye.)

“I chose UC Irvine because I felt very comfortable at the University and with the coaching staff,” Ndiaye said in a statement. “It is an excellent school that will help me develop as a student and basketball player.”

Ndiaye originally came to the U.S. on a student visa courtesy of Simi Valley (CA) Stoneridge Prep. Upon the discovery of a tumor on his pituitary gland (likely the reason for his extreme growth), a married couple who lives near Brethren Christian became Ndiaye’s legal guardians. Ndiaye subsequently transferred to his current school.

Ndiaye is currently ranked No. 84 in Rivals.com’s Top 150 players for the Class of 2013 after averaging 24.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 5.0 BPG last season.

Whether Irvine can become a new Southern California college hoops power remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure: Their presence in the area sure got bigger.

[Los Angeles Times | Prep Rally]

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