ANN ARBOR - Common Bond Youth Basketball organization held their annual "School's Out Tournament" in conjunction with the AAU as a Super Regional session.
While the results didn't go the way Common Bond's squad had hoped - their were defeated 85-79 in double-overtime by Kalamazoo based squad CDBA (Camp Darryl Basketball Academy)- several prospects showed they have a bright future ahead of them.
Sophomore Mohamed Conde demonstrated his considerable skillset and showed why Michigan State is interested in him as a potential recruit.
Former Belleville (MI) high school coach Mike Garland, an assistant at Michigan State and fellow assistant Dwayne Stephens, have both been involved in talking with Conde and his coach/guardian Tyrone Hicks, director of Common Bond Basketball.
Conde is a native of Guinea, West Africa and came to this country as a small child.
"I was born there and I moved here when I was 10-years old, in fifth grade, so that's when I started playing basketball," he said.
Conde came to live with Hicks when circumstances changed in his mother's life.
"My mom she used to live in Ypsilanti, but she went back to Africa and I ended up moving in with Coach Hicks. She comes to visit me sometimes. I have a sister that stays in Ypsilanti and I got another sister that stays in Philadelphia, but I cannot stay with them because my momma thought they were too young. They're in their 20s, so, you know."
Despite the difficult circumstances, Conde is upbeat about what he sees as a chance of a lifetime coming to him very soon.
He bubbled over at the prospect of playing basketbal at the major college level.
"I can't explain it. I just can't wait, you know. If I go to college on scholarship, there's nothing in the world better than that. You're just playing the sport you love and go to school for free, get to meet new people in different places. I feel great."
He says he knows about a few schools that are interested in him, but has turned his recruitment over to Hicks, his mentor.
"Michigan State (calls) a lot, Cincinnati, Eastern (Michigan) and some other schools I don't know about, but Coach Hicks knows about it, so right now, those are the only schools I know about."
What about that MSU interest?
"Coach (Dwayne) Stevens comes by to see me sometimes. He talks to Coach Hicks anytime and sometimes he comes to my games or Coach Garland calls me and talks to me or he talks to Coach Hicks about (possibly going to Michigan State)," said Conde.
But it's clear that young 6-foot-8 forward prospect views Stephens as more than just a basketball coach trying to recruit him to his school. He views him as a friend.
"Coach Stephens, basically when I talk to him, we just talk about personality, how I'm from Africa and he doesn't want me to (change). Basically, we just talk about (my) personality. But if he wants me to work on something, he just tells Coach Hicks and Coach Hicks tells me about it."
That doesn't mean that collegiate coaches aren't offering their assessment and their suggestions for Conde's improvement. Most have told him the same things.
"Basically my ballhandling and just everytime I shoot the ball make sure it goes in. And my strength, just getting into the weight room," he said.
Off the court, Conde is kind, soft-spoken and has impeccible manners. On the court, he's a vocal leader encouraging and even cajoling his teammates to play better.
So how does he know where everyone should be and what they should be doing when he's only a sophomore? Living with Hicks has made him sort of a 'coaches' son.'
"(I watch a lot of film), we run the plays in practice, so I know where everybody's supposed to be at, so if the point guard calls the play, I know who's supposed to be where and who's supposed to do what and who's supposed to set the screen," he said.
After watching Conde up close, we would like to see him play more agressive and demand the ball down the stretches of ball games.
He has a solid 16-foot face up jumper and is relentless running the floor. He has fair to good ballhandling skills and despite his slender frame, isn't afraid to fight for rebounds.
Perhaps as he gets older, and gets the encouragement from the solid Common Bond coaching staff, he'll look to be more of a scorer.
For now, his unselfishness, his leadership, his rebounding and tenacious defense have attracted the attention of recruiters from the Midwest and the young star will, no doubt, reach his goal of getting that scholarship offer he so dreams of securing.
Who's Next: Belleville's Mohamed Conde
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