Kentucky's Jules Camara, who sat out last season for violating the school's student-athlete alcohol policy, will see his first game action in 17 months when he suits up for the Senegalese National Team in the African Games next month in Morocco.
The 6-foot-11 junior froward, who hails from Dakar, Senegal, joined the squad earlier this week as it opened training camp in New Jersey. The team will practice here in the States in order to face better competition before returning to Senegal on Aug. 1. The African Games are scheduled for Aug. 4-14 with the winner earning a bid to the World Cup, a FIBA competition that will be held in Minneapolis next summer.
"It's a chance for me to compete against good players," Camara said before departing on July 10. "I haven't had the chance to play in a real game in awhile. Now I have a chance to not only gain experience, but to represent my country as well."
Joining Camara on the national team will be Mamadou N'diaye, the 7-foot center who played for Southeastern Conference rival Auburn two years ago and now plays for the NBA's Toronto Raptors. Camara's coach has indicated the UK big man should play a starting role.
"He said I had a good chance to be in the starting lineup and may even play small forward, since we have so much size on our team," he said. "Regardless, I just want to thank coach (Tubby) Smith and Mr. (Larry) Ivy (UK's Director of Athletics) for the opportunity and their support."
"Jules has earned this chance," Smith said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do this past year. It was a tough year for him, but now he'll have an opportunity to represent his country in national competition which I expect will help him tremendously heading into next season."
The last time Camara played in a game for the Cats was March 18, 2000, when Syracuse eliminated Kentucky in the second round of NCAA Tournament play. He finished his sophomore season starting 11 of the 31 games he played, averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 20.4 minutes per game.
Senegal will compete against Nigeria, Morocco and defending champ Angola, among others, in hopes of returning to the U.S. for international competition next summer.
"That's my goal," Camara said. "To help Kentucky reach Atlanta (Final Four) next spring, and get to Minneapolis next summer with Senegal."