The BAL Elevate program features 12 prospects from six African countries who attend NBA Academy Africa and play in the Basketball Africa League. The academy is based in Saly, Senegal.
He may only be eighteen but he’s already 6'8". Babacar Sané is one of the prospects of African basketball. He was rapidly promoted to play at the professional level and competes in this year’s Basketball Africa League (BAL). The NBA Academy trainee wears the jersey of the Dakar University Club as a part of his BAL Elevate program.
"I think I learned a lot as I grew up because it's not easy to be the youngest on the team and play with professionals. But it taught me to grow up fast. They give me a lot of advice in the game. It’s a dream to play in a league as if you were playing in the NBA with professional. It makes you dream and it motivates you to push and work a lot harder as well."
He is not the only young talented basketball player competing the second seson of the BAL. Twelve Afican prospects from the NBA Academy, based in Senegal, have all have been dispersed in various clubs. This decision mainly aims at raising the level of the competition. At least, that's what the president of the BAL, Amadou Gallo Fall, hopes for.
"It's an integral part of their training and for us, it's a way to instill talent because we're really talking about prospects. We don't know for now how the experience will turn out, how they will react on the court. These are young men who are all under 18, extremely gifted, but will they get on the court and display this talent? That we don't know."
Looking at their performances, the prospects have showcased their talent. Babacar Sané, Saliou Mbaye or Reuben Abuchi Chinyelu try to make a difference each time they step in the court. Even top players on the continent are impressed. SLAC's American forward Marcus Crawford is among them:
"They are good, they bring a lot of energy and they are very skilled. The fact that the NBA Academy is a part of what we're doing, they're really helping us win some games so I feel like it is a great thing and they need to keep going. If think they're gonna have some great careers, the two on my team but even some guys on other teams."
Before the prospects pursue professional careers, they need to focus on the BAL. The Sahara Conference games will end on March 15. The Nile Conference will kick off on April 9 then 8 teams will be qualified for the playoffs in May. The NBA Academy has in any case shown that African basketball has a new generation ready to take over.