A Closer Look at New Husky Aziz N'Diaye


Staff Writer Griffin Bennett takes a look at Aziz N’Diaye, the new Husky commit who will bring his seven-foot frame to Montlake next year. Next up, Terrence Jones?

by Griffin Bennett – Staff Writer

After weeks of conjecture and speculation by all of Husky Nation, the first recruiting block tumbled our way on Tuesday night as Aziz N’diaye, the College of Southern Idaho center, announced his decision to attend UW.

Getting to know Aziz:

Most of us who read this site daily should already know who this guy is, but just in case you don’t, here’s a little background on N’diaye. He grew up in Dakar, Senegal, and was first scouted by Southern Idaho’s coach Steve Gosar at a basketball camp in Africa when he was 17.

“When I saw him that young, he was about 6’10” and he was thin,” Gosar said, “but he had this passion to get better and passion to win and it was so evident that the kid had a motor, that you wanted to work with him around the clock.”

After earning the MVP of Basketball Without Borders in 2005, he committed to Southern Idaho where he led the conference in rebounds and was second in blocked shots during his freshman year. Going into his sophomore year he blew out his ACL and received a medical redshirt. “If he [was] available then we’re 16-0 right now,” Gosar said. “He’s a difference maker at our level that nobody has because he’s got good hands and there aren’t guys like him at this level.”

Naturally, Gosar thinks very highly of the Senegal native but will be the first to tell you that he’s not the prototypical African center. “He’s looking pretty good right now and I’d be shocked if there’s a better (JC big man) now. He’s a little different than most African bigs. He’s got a feel, he’s really aggressive and for a seven-footer he’s pretty skilled.”

The Huskies weren’t the only school after Aziz, as Colorado, Loyala Marymount, Oklahoma, and Oregon State had all offered scholarships to the athletic big man.

Impact for the Dawgs:

I’ve searched high and low for videos on Aziz, but I don’t think they exist. I’d like to take a look at this kid before I really try to determine his impact, but for time’s sake I’m going to have to just go off of quotes that I’ve heard from people in the know.

Bottom line: we now have a true center. He will allow MBA and Breshers to work from the 4 spot in certain line-ups. This makes my mouth water just thinking about it. One of our weaknesses this year was trying to match up with larger power-forward types (think Derrick Williams, Devin Ebanks, Jamal Boykin, Reeves Nelson). Aziz’s presence allows us to “go big” when we feel we need MBA’s defense at the 4 spot instead of the 5.

We all realized this year that if Romar and the Huskies are going to make a leap into the Elite 8 and beyond they need to get bigger. Adding a seven-footer is a big step in the right direction, but will it push us over the edge? That’s yet to be seen.

His ACL injury is a scary thought, no doubt about it. (Remember, it took Tyreese Breshers an entire season, and he still didn’t look to be in shape by the end.)

Knee injuries to big men have been UW’s nightmare for the past decade. The list is scary and it makes me cringe just thinking about it. Zach Johnson, Joe Wolfinger, and Artem Wallace might not be names that you think of as “game changers” but before their injuries they were each supposed to become impact players. By all accounts, however, Aziz is fully healed and has been cleared to play ball. He is going to have to wear a knee brace all of next year which makes me think that this will not be the last time we hear about his knee.

I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, of course. Realistically, having bad knees is a natural occurrence for a seven-foot human who runs and jumps. His injury does give him a third year of eligibility since he redshirted this year. While his full impact might not be noticed this year, his true impact could be felt in the 2011-2012 season as he fills the void for the departed MBA and Holiday. Breshers has shown flashes of brilliance down low, and having him play his natural position at the 4 will only help his game.

2010-2011 Prediction:

We won’t know what Romar has planned for him until the summer. However, what is the off season for if not speculation? My bet: Don’t expect huge things from Aziz this year.

(Quick Tangent: Please post your ideas for nicknames for Aziz. Pronouncing N’diaye is fun, I agree, but he is nicknamer’s dream!)

I expect Aziz to come off the bench and average 8-12 minutes a game. His playing time game-to-game will probably differ greatly as Romar loves to play the matchups. If we go against a team like ‘09/’10 Cal, don’t expect to see Aziz much (although Zhang vs. N’diaye will be glorious). My guess is he averages 3 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 block per game to 2010/11.

Scholarship situation:

In no way whatsoever does this mean the two Terrences (Jones and Ross) wouldn’t have spots left for them if they both opted to come to Montlake. Although no one is likely to transfer, there are other options that we have discussed here on MM before.

Romar can “politely” ask a player to pay his way through school for a year which would open up a spot. While I won’t speculate on who Romar would ask, a certain player has a father that played in the NBA for multiple years, and might have that type of financial security.

Hold on to your seats, folks. These next couple weeks of the signing period are going to be exciting. I’m not one to beg, but PLEASE TERRENCE JONES! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, COME TO UW!

Thanks for coming!