Amadou Sow left his family and his home country of Mali at the age of 15 for opportunity in the United States.
Two things have given him comfort in his new home: basketball and food.
"Now, since I'm in Cali here, I'm always eating some Mexican food," Sow said.
Sow started playing basketball at the age of 13 at the suggestion of a cousin who plays in Senegal. The lanky African athlete caught the eye of many when he participated in a Basketball WIthout Borders camp, sponsored by the NBA and FIBA, in 2014.
Several high schools and prep programs recruited him, and Sow landed at one of top programs in the country, Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif. There, Sow has played alongside some of the top players in the country, including top Class of 2017 prospects Gary Trent (a Duke signee), Paul Scruggs (an Xavier signee) and Abu Kigab (an Oregon signee).
"It's great. They make my job easier," Sow said. "They know the game. They play hard. I play hard. They're the best players in their class, and I'm trying to be the best player. I get to guard the best. When I'm out playing against other people, I feel like I'm the best because I guard the best. I played with the best."
Sow is starting to develop into one of the prospects to watch in the Class of 2018. The 6-foot-8 big man has scholarship offers from Colorado, Oregon State and Tulane. And on Monday, he received an offer fromIllinois.
"It means a lot," Sow said. "It's the Big Ten."
The Illinois staff has only been in Champaign for about a month, so Sow said of them: "I'm just trying to get to know them really soon so I can get dialed in with them."
Sow, who said he also has interest from Butler and LSU, said the recruiting interest show that his game is growing. He is taking recruiting pointers from his highly-recruited teammates.
"They just told me to look for whoever is showing me more love and showing me respect," Sow said.
Sow is growing more confident in his skills.
"For me, my touch around the rim is pretty good and on the offensive side I rebound the ball pretty well," Sow said. "My post moves are there. I always play hard. Defensive side, I just stick with the game plan and help all my teammates."
What's Sow looking for in a future college?
"For me, my academics is pretty important," Sow said. "The basketball part is too, of course, since I'm a basketball player. I always think a lot about studies because of life after basketball and my parents."
Moving to the United States was a culture shock. But the Mexican food and now power-five scholarship offers certainly give him some comfort.
"When I first got here, everything was different. I had to follow my coaches to ask them what's good and what's bad because I'm from a different culture. I have a host family here and they've been helping me out and getting to know their culture"It was hard at first leaving my family back there and moving out here, but as I got used to it, now it's just normal, everyday life.
"(The recruiting interest) feels good. That means I'm working hard and things are coming my way."