RU's Big Man on Campus

Over the last 30 years the Rutgers Men's basketball team has had exactly two true centers who emerged as great players on the collegiate level: James Bailey, from 1975-79, and Roy Hinson, who immediately followed Bailey and played in his last Rutgers game 23 years ago in 1983. That long wait for another dominant big man to come along at Rutgers may finally be ending this fall with the arrival of Hamady N'diaye.

Profile:Hamady N'diaye

At least that's what Mike Mahoney, director of basketball operations at Stoneridge Prep out in California where N'diaye played this past year, seems to think.

"The sky is the limit for him", said Mahoney. "He's a monster back there on defense. He wants to alter every shot and get every rebound. He's very tough and physical. He won't back down." Indeed, said Mahoney, it's as much Hamady N'diaye's attitude as well as his natural physical gifts – he's a legit 6'11" and still growing, has good coordination, and can really run the court, according to Mahoney - which makes him such an important recruit for RU this year. "He has a great work ethic and enthusiasm. He's very demonstrative and he plays very hard."

Still, Mahoney cautions, it's important to keep in mind that N'diaye, 19, has only been playing basketball for 4, maybe 5 years, and his offense right now lags behind his defense. It is, as Mahoney puts it, "A work in progress. Don't expect him to be Patrick Ewing right away." However, he then added that even that is coming along: "He has a nice little jump shot. He steps back nicely off the pick and roll."

Mahoney also wanted Rutgers fans to be aware of the environment that N'diaye has been in by playing at Stoneridge this past year. "We're a prep school", he said. "We get players from all over the world." They apparently must be getting some solid players, as all the seniors this past season received Div. 1 scholarship offers (Mahoney adds all 12 players on his team this year are Div. 1 talents) that makes for quite the talented lineup. Of this past year's team, Mahoney said that N'diaye was the most heavily recruited and was offered by about 20 programs. Gonzaga and George Washington almost made the final cut, but in the end it came down to Rutgers, Miami, and Pitt. What won it for RU?

Since N'diaye played the previous season here in New Jersey, contacts were already made, and that seems to have been the difference. "He had a familiarity with the climate and the area, a relationship with coaches and players", said Mahoney. "He had a definite comfort level with the program." Mahoney said that N'diaye was recruited quite well by now-departed head coach Gary Waters, but that new head coach Fred Hill and also coach Jim Carr "did a great in following him up and contacting him. They did the appropriate things that good recruiters do", he said.

Mahoney then added that when Stoneridge played a game out here in New Jersey this past December, the flight out was not until the next day - which afforded for an opportunity for the entire team to come up to visit Rutgers. Mahoney said it then "became very apparent that Rutgers basketball was on the upswing. They are poised to do good things and it's a good situation for Hamady to contribute. The team can build upon his strengths."

When asked that since N'diaye possesses such impressive physical tools coupled with a strong drive to succeed, does he have the ability to play on the next level, namely the NBA, Mahoney didn't flinch: "I wouldn't want to put that onus or expectation on anyone, but yes, definitely."

It's worth remembering that the last two big men to do that at Rutgers happened to be named Bailey and Hinson.

Hamady N'diaye dunks the ball.

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