Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Cheikh Mbodji, a 6-foot-9, 253-pound power forward from Dakar, Senegal by way of Denison (Texas) Grayson County College, has signed with Cincinnati and will have two years of eligibility remaining in the Big East.
Grayson coach Pat Rafferty, a former Louisville assistant under Denny Crum, said they playfully refer to him as “Shaq.”
The Co-Conference Player of the Year, he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game. Mbodji also considered San Diego State, but chose Cincinnati in part because of the efforts of Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin and assistant Darren Savino.
“He’s kind of a hybrid four,” Rafferty said by phone. “He’s become really solid and versatile. He’s got a nice skill-set. There are some things that he can do with his back to the basket. He’s really good in space. He has good skills, is a good passer. He’s just solid. He’s a nice fit for the guys that they’ve got coming back in terms of his ability to pass and defend and effect the game with his length.”
Unlike many African players, his offensive game is not raw and Rafferty said “he’s got some qualities about him you might expect from a European-type player.”
“He’s got upside to him,” the coach added. “He can contribute. He’s a nice piece that will complement what they have.”
Cincinnati now has six players signed for 2011: 6-5 Manhattan Rice wing Jermaine Sanders, 6-7 NIA Prep wing Shaquille Thomas, 6-2 Huntington (WV) Prep combo guard Jeremiah Davis, 6-9 Memphis Whitehaven power forward Octavius Ellis and 6-2 South Kent (Conn.) point guard Ge’lawn Guyn.
Kelvin Gaines, a 6-10 center from Ocala, Fla., will also join the team after redshirting.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.