Steve Moundou-Missi (CMR)
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Harvard's Moundou-Missi proud to represent Cameroon

BOSTON (AfroBasket 2015) - No one expected Steve Moundou-Missi to make Cameroon's AfroBasket roster two years ago when he left Cambridge, Massachusetts, for Yaounde to visit family and friends.

He was going on vacation.

But when Moundou-Missi, an applied mathematics major who had two years of American college basketball under his belt at Harvard University, arrived in Africa, he made an important discovery.

"Once at home, I learned the (national) team had tryouts and my first thought was to go to the gym and stay in shape and see what it was all about," he said to

"Eventually, I made the team. It was one of the proudest moments of my life."

Moundou-Missi then went to China with Cameroon on a tour before returning to his home continent and traveling to Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to play at AfroBasket 2013.

Cameroon had a good team and made it to the Quarter-Finals but fell to Cote d'Ivoire and ended up in fifth place.

Despite Cameroon's last-eight exit, Moundou-Missi has good memories of that summer.

"I was so happy to get to that stage and to represent my country," he said.

The experience was a valuable one for the 2.01m forward, who says he became a better basketball player.

"Absolutely," he said. "That entire summer helped me mentally.

"Though I made the team, I didn't play much and for the first time in my life, I didn't get into the game in some games so it was different for me to sit there and not be on the court.

I think the AfroBasket really helped me with my mental toughness - Moundou-Missi

"When I got back to Harvard, I had another mentality.

"I decided that I was going to do my best to be the best player possible by my senior year."

Moundou-Missi also did something else when he played for Cameroon.

He went from being a fan of NBA player Luc Mbah Moute to a teammate.

"Before playing with him, he was sort of a mentor to me because we both played at the same club back home, though not at the same time," Moundou-Missi said. "He was there a couple of years before me."

One could not have foreseen all of this 10 years ago because Moundou-Missi was really interested in basketball.

"I originally played football because Cameroon is a soccer nation," he said.

"Both my parents had played basketball and they wanted me to follow that path but being young, I didn’t want to.

"I used to go and see my dad play on Sundays, but mainly to get ice cream after.

"But I had an understanding of the game and exposure to it.

"Then at 14, I started playing basketball."

His parents were good players. They each wore the national team shirt so it was a proud moment for them as well when their son followed in their footsteps.

Moundou-Missi is now in his final year at Harvard, a captain, hoping to reach the NCAA Tournament a fourth straight time.

After enduring a shaky start to the season, Harvard found their rhythm. They now sit atop the Ivy League standings.

Moundou-Missi says he is trying to develop his leadership skills this season and that coach Tommy Amaker helps a great deal in that regard.

"When I think about him, I think about intensity, I think about fairness, discipline," Moundou-Missi said.

"He’s been an exceptional leader throughout the four years I’ve been here.

"He’s helped me grow as a person and player and has helped me understand there is more to all of this, to life, than just basketball."

So what will come next?

Moundou-Missi is concentrating on his classwork and the Harvard basketball team.

He isn't sure what the future holds for him after that, although playing for Cameroon again at some point is an aim.

Moundou-Missi monitored their progress last week and was thrilled when they defeated the Republic of Congo to clinch a spot in AfroBasket 2015.

"There is always a dogfight to qualify for this type of competition," Moundou-Missi said.

"The guys did a great job. It's always a huge thing."

Moundou-Missi is hoping that one day, he will play at an Olympics or a FIBA Basketball World Cup.

"I like to think of myself as a visionary," he said.

"Those things enter my mind everyday."