Updated: Jun 11, 2022
After taking a hiatus due to COVID last year, the 2021 Tarkanian Classic returned with 175+ teams spread across multiple gyms in Las Vegas, NV over the span of a week. Featuring elite basketball competition in prep and high school divisions, the must-see annual December high school tournament provided evaluators an opportunity to watch the prestigious NBA Academies in Africa and Latin America in addition to programs from around the U.S., Canada, and even Germany.
Pro Insight was on hand to cover the event and caught up with Baye Ndongo of Colorado Prep (CO) and Utah Prospects (UT). Originally from Thies, Senegal, Ndongo grew up playing soccer, but later picked up basketball when he was 14 years old. Prior to Colorado Prep, he suited up for the Darrow School (NY). At the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup, Ndongo averaged 7.6 points, 6 rebounds, and nearly 2 assists in 21.1 minutes per game for Senegal. At the time a relatively unknown prospect stateside, Ndongo captured the eyes of national evaluators at the Border League and later parlayed a productive effort at the Tarkanian Classic. With physical tools, defensive upside and two-way versatility, the lanky forward is loaded with translatable traits.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Ndongo highlighted the players he enjoys studying, growing up in a soccer family, inspiring the next generation in Senegal, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Baye Ndongo, from Thies, Senegal:
Pro Insight: Talk a bit about your background.
Baye Ndongo: I come from Senegal, west [side] of Africa.
PI: How did you get into basketball?
BN: I [started playing] basketball when I was 14-15 so I went to play at an NBA program in Senegal — it was a bigger program. So I went there for one year and I [came] here [to the U.S.], they [gave] me the opportunity to come here.
PI: How did the opportunity come to play in the U.S.?
BN: It was Coach Samba Fall. He’s the head coach at SEED Academy. You know, since he brought me here, so I’ve been here…I was in New York for two years. Now I’m here [at Colorado Prep].
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths on the court?
BN: I mean, I can play in the post as the four and the three, either or. Whatever you want me to play, I'm there.
PI: Who do you model your game after or try to study on film?
BN: Oh yeah, yeah, of course. I've been watching all of the players in the NBA, but I'm watching more Carmelo Anthony and KD and Giannis Antetokounmpo. They helped me to get better as a player and as a person. So yeah, I see myself in them so I've been looking at them.
PI: What are your current measurements?
BN: I'm 6’10” and my weight is 218 [pounds]. I don’t know my wingspan, but my shoe size is 15.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
BN: I mean, I'm just trying to help my team to get better every day so it doesn’t matter like whatever they want from me, but I'm just helping my team to get better every day. That's my goal for right now — to get better every day as a team.
PI: Did you grow up in a family who played sports?
BN: Yeah, I used to play soccer. Yeah, all of my family, they played soccer but my big brother used to play basketball and my big sister forced me to play basketball so she motivated me to play basketball. So I think, yeah…but all my family, they used to play soccer.
PI: Who is your favorite soccer team?
PI: Who is your favorite soccer player?
BN: I was watching a lot of Messi. I like Messi, yeah, so I've been watching him like my entire life.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
BN: Hang out with my friends. Playing video games with some of my brothers over there. I'll be with them. My people from Senegal, Cheikh [Sow] and Boubacar [Mboup], came with me. I’ve been playing 2K and stuff like that.
PI: Who’s your go-to team for 2K?
BN: Milwaukee, I like to play with Giannis.
PI: What’s your recruitment update?
BN: I mean I got a lot of schools who like me. They rock with me. But for me right now as a player, I'm just focusing on playing ball. Like if the college that wants you, they will come so I'm not focused on the college offers and stuff like that.
PI: Who have you been hearing from the most, lately?
BN: I got CU. CU, they contacted me. Providence, I got an offer from Providence. I got San Francisco. I got a lot of other schools: Washington, Washington State…Washington, they've been talking to me every day, so I hope it’s going to get better and better. (Note: Ndongo has also earned offers from Penn State, Arizona State, New Mexico, Bradley, and Siena)
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your choice?
BN: I mean I'm looking for a school that can help me get to my goal of getting better as a player and as a person, so to help my community when I go back home and do something for my country.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
BN: I gotta think about that (laughs). For now, I don't have any idea.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
BN: I mean, I'm a normal guy. Yeah, just like everybody. Yeah, I think that’s what I have to say.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
BN: I want to be remembered for where I come from and what my goal is, why I play this game and where I wanna be in three years, four years. Yeah, what I want to become… I want to give back to my country, help the young people, and the new generation, everything.