Oumar Ballo, number 11, put himself on the radar of NBA teams, colleges and international scouts with a dominant performance earlier this month in the FIBA Under-16 African Championship held in Vacoas-Phoenix, Mauritius, a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean.
Highlights of Oumar Ballo, was dominated the FIBA U16 Afrobasket at 6’10, 238 pounds, with his 7’5 wingspan and impressive skill-level. Ballo is from Mali and plays for the Canterbury Lions in Las Palmas, Spain
The 6-foot-10, 238-pound 15-year-old posted 25.7 points and 22.8 rebounds per-40 minutes on 68 percent shooting from the field, helping Mali cruise to an 8-0 record and first-place finish that secured the emerging West African basketball powerhouse a spot at the FIBA Under-17 World Championship in 2018 in Argentina.
On leaving his family behind at such an early age he says,
“Life was hard at first in Spain,” Ballo said. “Leaving my family behind at that age was difficult. I didn’t speak any English or Spanish. But I want to be a professional basketball player, so I had to do it. I had to be focused. I practiced three times per day at Canterbury, while being a full-time student. I played three to four games per week, against older players, which helped me a lot.”
Being compared to Shaquille O’Neal, he stands out first and foremost because of his height, massive frame, huge hands and 7-foot-5 wingspan that allows him to dominate the interior against other players his age.
“Every single day people ask me how did I get so big like that? How can I only be 15 years old? The answer is my parents. Look at my brother Drissa. He is a beast.”
His goal is to reach the NCAA after he graduates high school in 2020 and saying,
“I want to pass from high school to college to the NBA,” Ballo said. “I want to be a pro.”
Coach Lopez wants the best for Ballo and is concerned about all of the early interest saying,
“He must go to college,” Lopez said. “He must be ready for that. You never know your future, if you have a bad injury, you need academics in your pocket. That’s the first goal for him.”
“Too many people are on him right now,” he said. “Everyone is talking to him about being professional and going to the NBA. It doesn’t help a 15-year-old boy. I prefer to speak with him about academics, improving, doing his best, in order to have a good future. And then we can see. Now he needs to work.
“He has the potential to do it. He may still be growing. His body is immature. He’s still a baby. We have facilities, coaches, good players around, and a great private school. He has everything he needs to get there.”