Report: 7’6″ college center Mamadou Ndiaye declares for draft

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Mamadou Ndiaye anchored the UC Irvine defense this season. Almost literally.

He’s 7’6″ — the tallest player in college basketball — with an 8’1″ wingspan, so the Anteaters would camp him out in the middle of their zone and let him just take away penetration in the paint. He almost never moved outside it. In the Big West it was mostly effective.

Would it be in the NBA? Senegal native Ndiaye wants to find out, he is declaring for the draft, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Ndiaye submitted paperwork to enter the draft on Thursday and has informed the UC Irvine coaching staff of his decision to leave school. He said he won’t hire representation immediately, but has made plans to do so later in the predraft process…. A shot-blocking, inside presence, Ndiaye averaged 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 37 games this season.

I’m no scout, but as a Big West season ticket holder — GO BEACH! — I have seen Ndiaye in person multiple times and can tell you what I saw.

He’s very tall, very long, and his entire game is based around using that length. He moves a lot better than he did as a freshman, but he still doesn’t move well — certainly not against NBA-level athletes — and his instincts for the game are not great.

He put up nice offensive numbers, and his shooting stroke is decent, but almost all his points come off alley-oops, lobs when he is next to the rim, or offensive rebounds. He can get away with that in the Big West because there are only a couple other bigs 6’10” and most team’s bigs are a couple of inches shorter than that. He will find it much harder against NBA level size and athleticism.

Defensively, when he can’t just camp in the paint, he’s not going to be effective. Teams could expose him in pick-and-rolls, and considering the direction the game is going he may struggle to fit. He just would not be quick enough or anticipate the play well enough, and he hurt Irvine against teams that could up the tempo because he couldn’t keep up.

That said, you can’t teach size, and if a team wants to take a flier on him in the second half of the second round, they could do a lot worse.