NIAGARA UNIVERSITY N.Y.- Very few athletes that start out playing a sport in their teens go on to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship, but that is the case with Ousmane Diop, a freshman on the Niagara University men’s basketball team.
The 6′ 10″ forward has had a very unique journey to Niagara. Born in Dakar, Senegal in West Africa, he did not start playing basketball until much later in life.
“I started basketball at 15 or 16 years old,” Diop explained. “Before that I was playing soccer, but the rest of my family was playing basketball, so I just thought ‘why not?'”
The move from Senegal to the United States came with certain struggles and growing pains. While learning English is one such barrier, adjusting to the culture of the United States was another.
“It’s a big change,” Diop stated. “The culture is very different. But after my second year I have adjusted more.”
While very few athletes make it to the Division I level when starting their respective sport as late as Diop did, even fewer make it that far without playing a single high school game.
“When I went to high school I couldn’t play because I was ineligible,” Diop mentioned. “Then when I went to prep school, but I tore my ACL. So this is my first year playing real competition.”
Despite all of these obstacles, Diop has been able to make his dream of playing basketball come true. Now in his first year, Diop is looking to grow his game as much as possible this year.
“I’m taking this year as a learning year,” Diop elaborated. “Learning how to run a play and learn the system. But my ultimate goal is to make the all rookie team.”