Mohamed Tangara: Part Two

Mohamed Tangara's basketball journey has taken him from Mali to the United States and Mt. Zion Academy. The next leg of this journey will take him to an elite-level college basketball program. What school will he choose?

A solid basketball foundation has been built, and the academic support is in place to assist his adjustment to the English language. Each day, Mohamed Tangara is at work, honing his skills on the basketball court and in the classroom. It is because of a few high-quality traits, that Linzy Davis believes he is able to devote much focus to his new responsibilities.

"Mohamed is an extremely mature young man," Davis said. "So much so that he tends to separate himself from others who are immature. He is also very focused and shows an extreme amount of discipline in his school work and basketball."

All of this is creating quite a buzz for many individuals in the world of basketball. Since his debut with Mt. Zion and the Georgia Elite (his AAU team), Tangara has garnered much attention from a number of division one universities and even the NBA. It is reported that pro scouts have been tracking his progress for quite some time.

Such focus can be a distraction for even the most experienced high school and college players, though Davis feels Tangara is handling everything as well as he can.

"He doesn't pay any attention to it," Davis commented. "This kid came to the U.S. and made it clear that his goal is to play in the NBA and be the best player he can be. Scouts don't make him wide eyed or motivate him to play harder – he already plays his hardest."

His desire does raise the question of where this work will lead? Down a path that numerous, talented high school basketball players are traveling these days? Or will Tangara decide to focus on his education and basketball by attending a university with a prominent hoops program? It's difficult to know right now, as much more will transpire in the coming year. However, one issue that will only continue to heat up as the months pass is which school will become the frontrunner for Tangara if he chooses to play college basketball.

"He's interested in who wants him. That's the type of attention he gravitates to," Davis said. "Memphis and Michigan have been there from the start. Arizona and Josh Pastner have done an outstanding job, I know they're right at the top. Then Louisville, Duke and Miami are also in contention."

While these schools have shown great interest in Tangara, and thus have made his list, there will be a number of other factors that will figure into the equation.

"(Coaches) ability to communicate with him and meet him where his mind is at will be key," Davis commented. "He really values honesty, loyalty and commitment."

Beyond college and possibly playing in the NBA, Davis is equally excited about Tangara's opportunities to take care of those closest to him, as well as where he grew up.

"He has 18 people in his family and feels intense pressure to take care of them. They're all counting on him to make it to the NBA. But he can do more than that. Mohamed is the kind of individual who could reshape the future of Mali. Once he gets his degree and understands what to do with his money, I think he has the charisma and the political sense to change policy and reshape the country."

Part One, Posted June 14. A basketball prodigy from age three he wasn't. In fact it wasn't until he was in the ninth grade that Mohamed Tangara began playing the game, a game he is so passionate about.

Tangara grew up in the African nation of Mali and is currently drawing the attention of major universities interested in his basketball prowess. While his transition from the ninth grade to the twelfth was short in time, according to Linzy Davis it is unequaled in the work he put forth to become the talented player he is today.

"No one in America works harder," Davis said. "I've never had someone work as hard as (Tangara) has. He leaves nothing on the court."

Davis is the Director of the Georgia Elite Club Team Program and also Tangara's coach. He has had his share of talented basketball players come through his program, guys like Carmelo Anthony, Kalenna Azubuike, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. However, Tangara began his career with a little less fanfare.

"When he was in Mali he didn't get an opportunity to play a lot," Davis said. "But he was very hungry, and when they would bring him in the game he would quickly foul out. He was a raw athlete with a lot of aggressiveness, but not a lot of knowledge about the game."

This tenacity grabbed the attention of numerous scouts though, including Rob Mears, of the San Antonio Spurs. It was Mears that informed Davis about this 6' 9" diamond in the rough and recommended Davis to take a look at him.

"I really liked his aggressiveness," Davis commented. "I wasn't concerned about his skill level because I knew you couldn't teach 6' 9". I did know however, that I had a lot to work with and that I could make him into a very good player."

So it was in December 2000 that Tangara arrived in the U.S. armed with the goal to become a professional basketball player. He later enrolled at Mt. Zion Christian Academy where his educational transition was, according to Davis, "initially a challenge."

"He didn't speak any English, so the difficulties he experienced were natural. Right now he is a B student and while his English is good, he does have a ways to go with the written word. He'll be ok though, we'll have him take extra English classes so that he's prepared for college."

From a basketball standpoint Tangara has been quite impressive since arriving in America. Last year he averaged just over 11 points a game at Mt. Zion and has been equally as impressive during the summers, playing in numerous All-American Camps and for the Georgia Elite.

This summer will be no different, as Davis has kept Tangara quite busy working on numerous parts of his game.

"We've placed a lot of emphasis on his footwork," Davis commented. "We're trying to pattern his game after Hakeem Olajuwon and have been working on Hakeem-like moves. Squaring up to the basket to shoot, ball fakes, learning how to draw fouls on defense, all of this is a long learning process. But I feel with the amount of hours he has put in, he should be in good shape going into his senior season."

While many have helped him get to this point, Davis credits Tangara's desire and motivation to improve that have propelled him to this point in his life.

"His greatest influence has been his dream to play in the NBA," Davis said. "He's a hard worker and has a thirst for knowledge. He's never satisfied with what he's done, because for him it's a never ending process of improvement."

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