Senegalese prospect Mouhamed Gueye grew up playing soccer, but eventually transitioned to basketball as he continued to grow into his lanky 7’0” frame. Not too long after working out with a trainer in Africa, Prolific Prep became interested in Gueye’s talents and brought him into their program. Gueye spent his first year learning the game behind top 2020 prospects such as Jalen Green [G-League Ignite], Nimari Burnett [Alabama] and Coleman Hawkins [University of Illinois]. After spending the 2019-20 season on the sidelines, Gueye was eager to show people how good he is and could be as a player coming into this year. After a few videos surfaced last summer, people began to take notice and it quickly became apparent Gueye has all the talent to be a special player in the class of 2022.
Gueye brings a rare blend of size, mobility, coordination, and versatility to the table. After showcasing his talent and development throughout this season, Gueye has jumped from being unranked to #34 in the country in the 2022 class, per 247Sports.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Gueye discusses growing up in Senegal, his adjustment to Prolific Prep, his recruitment update, his off-court interests, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Mouhamed Gueye, from Dakar, Senegal:
Pro Insight: Talk about your background.
Mouhamed Gueye: I’m from Senegal, West Africa. My family is kind of a basketball family because my brother played basketball and my uncle played basketball. I’ve got cousins who play for the national team. I’ve got cousins who play in Europe and stuff. I was playing soccer at first, but my mom kept forcing me to play basketball, so I ended up playing basketball, I switched it. I’ve got two brothers and one sister. My older brother has a gym and he was working me out when I was there. My sister does hair, she used to play basketball too. She’s tall, she’s like 6’4”-6’5” tall. I come from a good family, middle class family. We were not poor. We had fun, it was pretty competitive though. I’m the youngest one so they used to bully me, all my brothers used to bully me. That helped me a lot right now being here playing basketball. I’m grateful to be part of that.
PI: What are your current measurements?
MG: I’m 7’0” 208 pounds and my wingspan is 7’5”.
PI: Where do you get your height from?
MG: My grandma is tall. I think everybody in my family is above 6’0”. My dad is like 6’4”, my mom is not that tall, she’s like 5’10”, but yeah everybody in my family is above 6’0”.
PI: Are there any other 7-footers?
MG: Oh yeah a lot of 7-footers. My cousin who plays for the national team, he’s like 7’1”. I’ve got a cousin who plays in Europe who is like 7’0”. [Others who are] 6’8”, 6’11”...pretty tall.
PI: How did you start playing basketball?
MG: I always used to play soccer and every time I would see my brother go play basketball I was like, “nah I will never play basketball.” Because in Senegal everyone plays soccer, I don’t care where you’re from, they give you a soccer ball and go play. And I started watching the NBA and falling in love with KD. I like his style and everything about him. I started watching my brother play, I’d go see him play. It was fun for me to watch him play. I started picking up the ball, dribbling and shooting by myself, playing with my friends. My mom was putting pressure on me to stop playing soccer because I was growing fast. I was taller than all of my friends. She was like, “just go play basketball” and I started playing. I learned it quick, I learned a lot. We were working out by myself with my brother who is my coach. I’ve got a coach from France, his name is Mamadou [Cisse]. He was my personal coach in Senegal — we were working out a lot and that’s how I ended up here. He connected me with Philippe [Doherty] and that’s how I ended up at Prolific [Prep]. I’ve been playing for about four or five years now.
PI: When did you start playing organized basketball?
MG: That’s the crazy thing, I first started playing organized basketball at Prolific [Prep]. Like I never played on a team before.
PI: What's the story on how you ended up with Prolific?
MG: Mamadou actually, he has a connection with Prolific. He used to send players all over the place in the United States. He’s Senegalese, but he lives in France. During the summer he was working me out. He took some pictures and videos of me and sent them to Philippe. They liked me and three months later I ended up here.
PI: How has growing up playing soccer benefitted you as a basketball player?
MG: I think soccer helped me a lot because I’m able to move like a guard. I’ve got good footwork and I’m pretty fast for a 7-footer. People say they don’t see that a lot here and I think because of soccer I have all that.
PI: What was that adjustment like coming from Dakar, Senegal to the United States?
MG: I think the first thing was the cold, I never experienced that. In Senegal it’s always warm. I first got here on November 9th, my birthday, and it was like freezing. I was not used to it. After that the food was pretty hard — I live in Napa and they don’t got a lot of African food here. They don’t got nothing, they’ve got a lot of Mexican food, but definitely the food was hard, too.
PI: What was the adjustment like on the court?
MG: It was pretty hard. My first year here they had Jalen [Green], Nimari [Burnett], Coleman [Hawkins], the top of the top of high school basketball. So for me coming from not knowing what organized basketball looked like to jumping to that was pretty hard. I didn’t know when to dribble the ball all the way or all that. Like I have to respect what the coach is saying, I have to listen, know the plays, it was a lot and it was really hard, too.
PI: How much have you learned from being with them? How has your game developed?
MG: I think I’ve grown a lot. I think I know the game more now. When I first got here I thought the game was all about offense: take the ball, dunk on people, make three-point shots. And now I understand that defense is the more important thing about basketball. I play defense and it’s not about the stat line like they say. You do things that nobody can see, but everybody knows you’re effective. Like taking a charge, making a good screen, all that. I feel like I learned a lot this year.
PI: For those that aren’t super familiar with your game — what are your greatest strengths on the court?
MG: I think I can move very well, I can shoot, I can push the ball for my size, I think I can pass, too. I think I can do it all — I’m an all-around player.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most?
MG: I think I need to improve everything. My handle, shooting, passing…yeah I think I need to improve everything. I think I need to work on my game every day, like have a lot of reps. Be in the gym every day. Be constantly in the gym.
PI: What are some underrated parts of your game you feel you don’t get enough credit for?
MG: I think my defense. I don’t feel like people see me as a good or elite defender and I think I am.
PI: How would you describe yourself as a defender?
MG: I can play help side, I can be tough on the ball, I’m on the gaps. I think I’m like everywhere.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
BM: Probably Jaden Hardy. He was making some tough shots, like really really tough. There’s nothing you can do about it because you’re playing good defense. You’ve got your hands up and everything, but he’s still going to make the shots.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
MG: I model my game off a lot of NBA players. I play like KD, BI [Brandon Ingram], Tatum, like the big guards. I model my game off them a lot. I like to watch them play, I like to learn from them, I like to watch them workout.
PI: What position do you view yourself as?
MG: That’s tough because I think I can play wherever you put me. I don’t have a position. I’m not a small forward, I’m not a power forward. I can play it all.
PI: Would it bother you to be labeled as a 'big'? How does that sit with you?
MG: Not really. I think that’s a big thing to label me as a “big” so I can show my skills. When I show my skills they’ll be like, “oh he’s not a big, he’s a big with guard skills.” I think that’s a good thing for me.
PI: How would you describe the basketball culture in Senegal?
MG: I think it’s going up because we have a lot of players, a lot of guys with talent. They’re tall and can pretty much do everything. I feel like we don’t have enough of a platform to showcase our talent, but we have a lot of potential for sure.
PI: With soccer being the top sport, where does basketball rank in popularity after that?
MG: We got like our version of UFC, they call it laamb [in Wolof], it’s like wrestling. I can say that’s like the top sport over there, after that it’s soccer, then basketball. Right now it’s raising up, all my friends that were playing soccer with me, they’re playing basketball now.
PI: Who was your favorite soccer team growing up?
MG: A.C. Milan from Italy — that’s my all-time favorite team.
PI: Did you have a favorite player?
MG: Growing up I liked [Andriy] Shevchenko. He was like the best player of that era for me, but now I like Paul Pogba from Manchester [United].
PI: What is your training schedule/regimen like?
MG: Last summer before the season started I was training at 7AM. Me and one of my teammates, we would train from 7-10AM. We’d rest until 1PM, then we’d go to the fitness gym from 1-2PM, and then we’d come back at 7PM at night and shoot.
PI: Describe this past season.
MG: It was fun. We had a lot of fun. At the beginning of the year we weren’t really together, but we found ourselves pretty well. I think we ended our season pretty well because we were really struggling at the start.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player and as a person?
MG: Short term goals are just like winning everything. I just want to win in high school, college, and the NBA. Obviously I want to go to the league and I don’t want to be just another NBA player, I want to be someone in the NBA. I want to be known. I want to stay in the league, I want to do something in the league.
PI: How about long term?
MG: I think my long term goal after the NBA is...the thing is I like business, I want to own a lot of stuff. I want to do art, too. I want to launch a company. I want to do a lot of stuff.
PI: Would you look to do those things in the U.S. or back in Senegal?
MG: I think I would start it here and bring it to Senegal. I think I would have a better chance at starting here because I’ve got a lot of opportunities here.
PI: What are some things you bring to a team off the court?
MG: I think I bring joy. I want everybody to be happy. I think I’m a funny guy who makes everybody laugh. And just the togetherness, I feel like I’m a good...I don’t want to say “captain,” but I’m a good guy to be around a team. I like to motivate people, I don’t want to see my teammates down or stuff like that. So I think I bring that to a team.
PI: What type of leader are you?
MG: This year my coach challenged me to be more vocal because I don’t like to scream at people or yell. If I see something I just say, “next time it will be O.K.” I’m that kind of guy. I don’t like to scream or yell at people.
PI: When did you start to get noticed on a national scale?
MG: I think last summer, because when I was working out at Prolific [Prep] they were filming me and they posted a video on Instagram. I started getting a lot of views and a lot more followers. I was at like 500 [followers] when I got here and now I’m almost at like 2,000 [followers]. College coaches started calling me and started getting DM’s from the coaches. Two weeks after the video my ranking went up from like unranked to #35 in the country. I think that’s when it happened.
PI: Did that boost your confidence?
MG: Not really because I thought I had a chance to play in the NBA when I first started playing basketball. For me the rankings don’t mean anything, they just make me work harder. Now I know people are watching me so I got to prove to them that I’m who I think I am.
PI: Do you feel any internal or external pressure to perform or succeed?
MG: No, I won’t call it pressure. I call it excitement because I want to show people what I really have. Like you said earlier, people think I have the potential to be someone, but I really want to show them that I’m that guy. I can be that guy.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
MG: Right now I’ve got offers from Kansas, UCLA, Rutgers, Washington State, and Cal. I started talking to Illinois because Coleman [Hawkins] my [former] teammate wants me to go there. Stanford, Nevada...if I’m not mistaken I think that’s it.
PI: Who have you been hearing from the most lately?
MG: Rutgers and Washington State. We’re texting a lot, like on a daily basis. I hear from Kansas once a week, too.
PI: What’s your general timeline for making a college decision?
MG: I want to take some visits before I commit. I wanted to do it this year, but because of COVID it was really hard. So I’m planning on doing it next year and hopefully COVID is not here. Then probably after that I will commit.
PI: What have been some of the challenges of being recruited during COVID?
MG: I’ve been doing a lot of zoom visits, but it’s not really the same. It was kind of weird for me because like sitting here talking to coaches where they’re showing you the school, like you’re not really interested in that. I don’t think it shows you what schools really have to offer you. So it was tough for me.
PI: What are schools trying to pitch to you?
MG: I think they all say the same thing, like “we’re going to use you, we need you, you’ll play right away here” all the things you want to hear as a player. I mean they want you, but they’re just going to say whatever to make you happy. And they all say the same thing actually, like “you’re going to play right away, we need you here, you’ll love it here” stuff like that.
PI: Would you consider playing in the G-League or overseas in lieu of college?
MG: Maybe. I don’t want to say no to potential opportunities. Why not? Maybe.
PI: What are you ultimately looking for in a school of choice?
MG: A school where I can play right away, where I can have an impact as a player, and where I’m happy. And for my family because education is a big thing for my family and for Senegal. It’s cool where I can pursue [basketball] and have my degree. Just somewhere where I can be happy myself.
PI: Any idea what you'd major in?
MG: Probably business. I don’t know which type because they have a lot of stuff, but probably business.
PI: What kind of system do you feel best fits your strengths as a player?
MG: I think a system where they don’t restrain you, they let you play your game. They let the big push and the game flow. If I go somewhere where I can’t showcase my talent, it will hurt me and it won’t be good for my future. I think that the best thing is where you go somewhere that lets you showcase your talent and play freely. When I say play freely, I mean you’ve got to do something right not just you, but they let you do you.
PI: Have you ever considered playing for the Senegal national team?
MG: Yeah I definitely would play for them. They reached out to my big bro for U18 [team] this year and last year, but yeah I would definitely play for them.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
MG: For me success is just to see my family happy because I know if I make it to the NBA I’m successful regardless because I’ve got my family right. For me that’s just the best thing, is for my family. Family is the most important thing for me regardless of basketball and all the things I can have. It’s just for my family.
PI: What do you personally feel you’ll need to accomplish in your career in order for you to become satisfied?
MG: Probably winning a ring in the league and being a hall of famer. That’s two of my goals, win a ring and be a hall of famer. And after that I would probably feel good about myself.
PI: What would you say is the smartest purchase you’ve ever made?
MG: Probably my wallet because I was losing everything out of my pocket. That wallet was big time clutch, since I’ve got it I’m not losing anything.
PI: Do you have a favorite book? Why?
MG: Yeah, I’ve got it right here [grabs book]. I’m a big fan of Muhammad Ali, he’s my guy. I’ve got his book. It’s about Muhammad Ali and his history. When he was young, when he grew up, becoming a world champion, until he died. It’s his life and I like it.
PI: You share the same first name — what do you try to take from him and apply to your life?
MG: Just his mindset. I like his mindset, he’s like, “I’m a winner even before winning.” Like just believe in yourself like that and bet on yourself and that’s what I’m trying to do.
PI: Talk about your most embarrassing moment.
MG: Nah [smiles]. I don’t really think I have one.
PI: Talk about your favorite all-time memory on the basketball court.
MG: It’s probably going to be me and Milos [Uzan]. Me and Milos, we’re super close off the court. On the court every time he throws me a lob, everytime I dunk the lob you’ll see him screaming, “yeahhh!!” and cursing and everything. I think that’s my favorite play on the court.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
MG: Probably people chewing, like how loud they sound. That’s not a big big one, but I can’t handle it.
PI: Do you have any regrets?
MG: I don’t think so. I think I have made bad decisions, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I have regrets. Those decisions have made me into who I am today. I made a bad decision, but that was only me, not people influencing me to say or do something and I can live with that.
PI: With members of your family being high-level athletes, themselves, what have they instilled in you over the years?
MG: I think the biggest thing they’ve taught me is hard work. Every time I’m on the phone with them they tell me, “work hard and pray.” Because I’m a Muslim I have to pray all the time. Like “work hard and pray” no matter what, like every day. The other day I remember saying to my mom, “you always say the same thing to me, just pray, pray, pray, and stuff” making fun of her, but that’s the main thing they say, “just work hard and pray.”
PI: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your life up to this point?
MG: Oh that’s definitely my big brother. He’s the oldest one. He’s been like a father to me, because my mom and my dad were not really together when I was growing up, so it was all the time with him. I was doing school with him, he was taking me everywhere. I was literally with him all the time and I modeled my life a lot from him, like everything. I just wanted to be like him you know? I think he’s my biggest influence.
PI: Would you say you rely more on your natural talent and ability or on your work ethic?
MG: I would say both because people keep saying I’ve got talent and I’m like, “O.K.,” but I like to work hard. I like to go to the gym and work hard. For me if I don’t work hard then I’m not good. I’m like, “oh I’m not as good as them or I’m not as good as I should be.” I have to work all the time. So I would say both.
PI: What motivates you to work hard?
MG: My family is my biggest motivation. My siblings. Like I want to give them everything they want. I want to provide like anything and I don’t want them to need anything from anyone. I just want to give them everything and I think they’re my biggest motivation or inspiration.
PI: Talk about a time or story in your life that you feel has really shaped who you are today.
MG: I think when I had to leave Senegal to come here because that was the first time leaving my family. That was my first time leaving the country. I didn’t know nobody here and that was a tough time for me because I’m the youngest one and I’m super close to my mom and my siblings. They’re my everything, so when I left to come here it was pretty tough for me. At the same time it helped me a lot, too. It helped me to grow up earlier and faster. It helped me become a man earlier and handle my business earlier. It helped me grow up a lot and see things from another point of view. Like 8-9 months after I left my brother called me and was like, “how is your room?” because in Senegal you’re accustomed to having not a ton of stuff, I showed him my room and he was like, “oh” and he was surprised because I’ve got like everything I need. That’s a good change and is helping me a lot. And thank God, I’ve got like a great host family. They help me through all this stuff. I got one host brother and one host sister, they’re super short, but they’re family [smiles]. They’re like 5’4” or 5’5”, but yeah my host mom and host dad are helping me a lot, like a lot.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
MG: Probably from my dad. He taught me, “remember wherever you go and whatever you’re doing, take the time to pray.” That was before I got here and I’ve been doing that since I got here. That’s just a different feeling when you pray all the time and you know God is with you. I think that’s the best advice I’ve had.
PI: How have you handled and responded to adversity in your life?
MG: I think I’ve handled it pretty cool because when I was young I didn’t like it at all. I was going to play soccer or basketball and I’d see someone playing and I’d be like, “no I’m not playing” because I didn’t know. As time has gone on, I now enjoy seeing someone who plays good or better than me because I want to play them. I want to see what they are about. I learned that adversity just makes you grow, that’s the main thing. It helps you understand a lot of things and I like it and I think I handle it well.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
MG: Probably a house for my mom. I would buy a house for my mom, and my siblings, whatever they want. For myself, I would buy a [Mercedes] G-Wagon. That’s my favorite car. Yeah I would give away a lot, but definitely a house for my mom.
PI: What are you most passionate about outside of the game of basketball?
MG: I like business and art a lot. I’m pretty good at it, I like to draw. I like fashion and buying clothes. I like music, I listen to a lot of rap. Yeah I think that’s about it.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
MG: It’s funny because my host family thinks I should be a model if I’m not playing basketball [smiles]. Yeah definitely modeling. Being just an artist in everything, taking pictures, drawing, fashion side, like everything. I just like art.
PI: Have you designed any clothes?
MG: Oh no, not yet. I like to buy clothes and make my own fit. I know it might seem weird to people, but I feel it. It’s kind of different.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
MG: Different. Funny. Anti-social. Thankful.
PI: So you're more of an introvert?
MG: I know a lot of people, but I don’t be hanging out with a lot of people. I like to chill in my room, watch YouTube, and do whatever.
PI: Do you play video games? Playstation or Xbox?
MG: 2K, I used to play 2K a lot. Playstation for sure. I have played Xbox, but I don’t really like it.
PI: Do you play against your teammate Adem Bona?
MG: I play him on 2K, but I smoke him, he’s not that good [smiles]. But he’s gonna talk, he’s gonna keep talking. Adem talks a lot, and he’s got a loud voice, too [smiles].
PI: If someone were to write a book or a movie about your life, what would be the title?
MG: I think it would be Mud Boy. Like Mud Boy coming from the Mud.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
MG: Just a great and loyal guy. For me loyalty is the biggest thing, I want people to remember me as a loyal and great guy.
Watch the full interview with Mouhamed, here