Washington basketball players will have a chance to see Aziz N'Diaye's home
The Washington men's basketball team will tour Europe and Africa, spending the last four days in Dakar, Senegal, the hometown of Huskies senior center Aziz N'Diaye.
Seattle Times staff reporter
To prepare for their basketball journey to Europe and Africa, the Huskies underwent 10 practices where they implemented a new high-post offense.
The players also participated in a college course at Washington that helped them understand foreign countries and cultures.
During one of the classes, senior center Aziz N'Diaye spoke to the team about growing up in Dakar, Senegal — the final stop of UW's 15-day, six-city international trip that begins Saturday afternoon with a 19-hour flight to Paris.
"It was humbling to hear," junior guard C.J. Wilcox said.
N'Diaye inadvertently played a major role in scheduling the trip, which originally had the Huskies traveling to China.
He was one of the key figures in the documentary "Elevate," which chronicled the journey of four Senegalese teenagers from West African basketball academies to American prep schools and college.
The movie was released last year and after viewing the movie, coach Lorenzo Romar removed China from the itinerary and added Africa.
"I was just overwhelmed with what those kids go through and how big a deal it is for them to get out here and actually have an opportunity to get an education and maybe have a chance to get to the next level," he said. "I thought with our tour coming up it would be great to go there and play a game.
"Let Aziz's family see who he's been living with the last few years. Let them get a chance to know us a little bit in the brief time that we're there, but then give our guys a chance to see what Aziz is all about. See where he's coming from. See what his world is like to better understand him."
During their four days in Dakar, the Huskies will host basketball clinics at two children's grammar schools and play an exhibition game against the Dakar University Club at Marius N'Diaye Stadium.
They will also participate in an African safari and visit Goree Island, a 15th-century landmark that was the centerpiece of the West African slave trade.
For N'Diaye, the journey home is a chance to reunite with friends and family. His father and brother live in Rhode Island, but his mother and two sisters are in Senegal and he hasn't seen them in two years.
"I'm looking forward to it because it's been awhile," N'Diaye said.
He also welcomes being an ambassador for many teammates who have never been out of the country.
N'Diaye said he plans to urge the Huskies to sample his favorite local cuisine — rice and fish. He also hopes to take them back to his old neighborhood.
"All of it (the trip) is going to be good, but that leg of the trip — going to Senegal — is something I think is going to put a lot of things into perspective for our guys," Romar said.
Before the Huskies arrive in Africa, they'll visit France, Spain and Monaco and face professional teams of varying talent. One of the squads includes former NBA player Sean May, who led North Carolina to the 2005 NCAA national title.
The seven exhibitions will give Washington a chance to work the kinks out of its new offense and experiment with lineups.
It will also be the first time the Huskies will play without departed stars Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr., who were taken in the first round of the NBA draft.
The trip marks the return of senior guard Scott Suggs, who sat out last season with a foot injury.
The Huskies will find out how much redshirted freshmen Jernard Jarreau and Andrew Andrews have developed.
Washington will also get a look at four-year starter Abdul Gaddy and Wilcox in starring roles and begin to figure who will emerge at power forward in a battle between sophomores Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp Jr., Martin Breunig and Jarreau.
When the Huskies return Sept. 8, Romar hopes to have established who will be in the rotation.
"We're going to give everybody a chance to play," he said. "This will kind of be like a prelude to the preseason."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen