Family Sacrifices Led Kone to Rutgers

BELMAR, N.J. -- New Jersey certainly is much different than St. George, Va., where Malick Kone went to high school, but the adjustment should go well. After all, the freshman wing's path to Rutgers was filled with adjustments, including learning to be an ocean away from his family, which he last saw in 2008.

BELMAR, N.J. -- The Blue Ridge School is located 45 minutes north of Charlottesville, Va., which immediately speaks of its remote location. The area it sits in, Greene County, has less residents than Rutgers has students.

So, there will be a cultural adjustment period for Rutgers freshman wing Malick Kone, but it won't be a problem. Not after the adjustment he already made.

When he packed up and left the bustling capital city of Conakry, Guinea, situated on the Atlantic Coast of Africa, for the Blue Ridge School (St. George, Va.,) and said goodbye to his family, he knew it was going to be a while before he saw them.

That was three years ago.

"I haven't seen them since 2008," the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Kone said. "I'm trying to see them, but I'm too busy with basketball and school. And, it's a bit expensive to go. Hopefully, next summer. We'll see.

"My dad wants to come, but sometimes it's hard to get a visa to come here. I wish he would come here.I talk to my younger brother. He's in France, so we talk all the time on Skype."

Kone was the lone under-the-radar prospect coach Mike Rice signed in a top10 class, and needs to develop his game.

A former soccer player with tremendous athleticism and length, not to mention an eagerness to learn in the classroom and on the court, made it easy for Rice to make Kone part of the seven-man highly-touted recruiting class.

After all, Kone came to the United States fluent in four languages (French and three African dialects), but with no ability to speak English.

"I came for basketball and the education," Kone said. "The same person who helped me get (to the United States) got me to Blue Ridge. They told me it an all boys school, but I didn't care. I just needed to find a school."

Much in the same way Kone wasn't overly concerned about the type of campus Rutgers had. He wanted a place where he could develop socially, athletically and academically, even if it is markedly different than the Blue Ridge School.

"The area was quiet. It was the country," Kone said. "It is very different from New Jersey. There is a lot more people, and a lot more traffic. This is my first time spending time in New Jersey and I'm having fun, and getting to know my teammates.

"I'm getting used to it. By the time September (arrives), everything is going to be fine."

Kone, who will turn 20 in December, averaged 15.9 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 56 percent from the floor as a senior.

He is gaining an understanding of what it will take to play in the Big East by playing in the Verizon Fios Jersey Shore Basketball League, where he is playing a reserve role on a team (Gutter Cleaners) with eight Rutgers players. His adjustment is aided by the fact current Scarlet Knights Wally Judge, Jerome Seagears and Tyree Graham played in the same AAU program (D.C. Assault) as Kone.

"I'm getting a lot of experience," Kone said. "It's more physical and there is a lot of talent. It is very different from high school."

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