30 August, 2014
14 September
Maurice NDOUR (SEN)
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More than basketball on Ndour's mind at World Cup

SEVILLA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - If you happen to see Maurice Ndour on his smartphone or computer during the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Senegal forward might not just be messing around on the internet.

No, in fact he might actually be taking an exam or researching a topic for one of the online courses he is taking in Sevilla.

That's right, online courses during the World Cup - Senegal's first appearance at FIBA’s flagship event since 2006.

"It's kind of hard. Right now I'm taking six classes online," said Ndour, who is taking courses such as "Computer Science" at Ohio University.

I have to focus on my classes and at the same time focus on the World Cup. But I can say that I'm used to it. - Ndour

The fact that Ndour is studying for his "Women In Leadership" class in between team meetings or practices to discuss opponents like Greece, Puerto Rico or Argentina should not be a surprise.

Ndour is a pretty multi-faceted guy - besides the fact that he's a big energy player for Senegal, having helped them to two straight victories by averaging 4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 0.7 steals after three games.

First off, the 22-year-old speaks five languages - English, French, Japanese and Senegalese tribal tongues Wolof and Serer.

"English is my favourite. I'm really comfortable speaking it. A lot of people learn English in school, and I am doing that too. But I learned a lot of my English through music, reggae music. That's why I love it," said the Sindia native who lives in Mbour when he goes back to Senegal.

Ndour actually speaks three dialects of Japanese after spending two years there in a high school in Okayama. While many young Senegalese with the dream of playing professional basketball go to the much-acclaimed Seeds Academy, Ndour decided to move from Africa to Japan to pursue his dream.

"I was playing at a showcase tournament at Seeds and somebody saw me there. I was pretty good and somebody asked me if I wanted to come to Japan. And I said why not. That's an opportunity for me to get out of Senegal and live my dream, which is basketball," said the 22-year-old, whose father was the first English-speaking TV anchor in Senegal and mother was a secretary who worked for the government.

Ndour, who grew up playing football but took up basketball in middle school, graduated after two years of high school in Japan and went to Monroe College, a junior college in upstate New York. He then transferred to Ohio University, where he is now studying Information Technology.

"This is a world of technology. Knowing a lot about it will definitely help me in the future. That's something I want to do," said the rising senior.

Upon his arrival in the United States, Ndour was actually taken aback by how lax many American student-athletes took their chance to play basketball and get an education for free.

You always have to be the hardest worker on the court and off the court, which means going to classes and getting your education right. - Ndour

"I came a long way. I'm not going to come here and just go through the motions. I'm trying to not take anything for granted," he told the Buffalo News.

Ndour said he is really enjoying living in the United States. In fact, he's using his studies to get to know more about the country - through his "History of Film" class.

"I don't have a preference of film. The reason I take it is to just know a lot about the U.S. I don't know a lot about the history of the U.S. I'm trying to learn a lot about it," he explained.

He's also learning a bit about basketball history, having helped Senegal to their first victory in FIBA's flagship event since 1998 on Sunday as well as a second win a day later.

"I don't know anything about that game (in 1998). But I can tell you something, we gave it our best," said Ndour, who was just six years old in 1998, when Senegal ended a 20-year wait to get their second win in FIBA's flagship event.

"It means a lot. A lot of people don't expect us to win. So, for us to win is huge."

Ndour is showing to be a good student on and off the court.