Aside from Summer League and the first training camp, the last five picks in the second round of the NBA draft usually don't spend a lot of time in the NBA. Most of them fail to make the roster in their first year, and wash out out of the league entirely shortly thereafter.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't root for them; to make the roster, find success, and ultimately play a role on a winning basketball team. Especially when the guy your team picks is as likable as the Wizards' pick at 56 overall in last week's draft, Rutgers big man Hamady N'diaye. Kyle Weidie at Truth About It took a look at N'diaye, the man known to everyone simply as "H."
Growing up in Senegal, N’diaye didn’t find basketball as a serious outlet until around age 15, mostly playing soccer when he was young like Solomon Alabi and others from the African continent. But with height as a natural tool (he now measures 6′10.5″ without shoes with a 7′6″ wingspan — Saunders says he can touch about 12′7″ on the backboard), N’diaye saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He left his family and came to the U.S. at 16, by himself and speaking very little English, to pursue a career in basketball.
That's a pretty bold move, to go to a country whose language you don't speak very well, all by yourself at the age of sixteen. It shows a lot of maturity that he was able to find his way through high school seemingly without much guidance or support from his family, by no fault of theirs I must point out. He bounced around high schools all over the country, before eventually winding up at Rutgers.
Four years of basketball conditioning at Rutgers later, where he leaves as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots (his 4.5 per game average was third highest in the nation last season) and reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, N’diaye finds himself a member of the Washington Wizards — six total years of competitive basketball experience and counting.
Only six years of competitive ball, so he has a lot of room to grow. I know, I know, we hear that all the time, but please, I really want to believe it with this kid. Let me just dream for a second. Thank you.
Basketball and personal history aside, I think this is my favorite part about H:
In addition to being team captain, team MVP and team defensive MVP during his senior season at Rutgers, N’diaye was heavily involved in the community during his four years of college. “Read Across America,” “Toys for Tots,” “Get out the Vote,” fund-raising walks, a student-athlete academic mentor … Hamady did it all and more, culminating with him being named a finalist for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior Class Award.
And I’m not even getting into N’diaye’s scholastic achievements and recognition. He made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll three times, in addition to racking up other scholar-athlete awards, and recently graduated with a degree in communications.
A lot of guys who get drafted at the end of the second round won't be playing basketball with the teams that draft them. But based on how hard a worker H seems to be both on and off the court, I wouldn't count him out just yet.