The Detroit Pistons signed undrafted rookie center Mamadou N’Diaye to a contract on Saturday, bringing another towering center into the fold, per ESPN’s Marc Spears.
N’Diaye measures at 7-6 and 300 pounds, making him far and away one of the tallest players in the NBA. The Senegal native spent three years at UC Irvine. After going undrafted in 2016, he joined the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League squad but was not signed to a contract.
N’Diaye found his way to the United States at around 17 after one of UC Irvine’s scouts saw him play a pickup game in his home country. He began experiencing severe headaches upon his arrival in the United States, however. Doctors examined him and discovered that he was suffering from a golf ball-sized tumor in his pituitary gland. This tumor was the cause of his excessive growth and was also hurting his vision. A local couple in Huntington Beach offered to become his guardians so he could commute to a hospital for treatment. His medical expenses were paid by fundraising in the local community.
Once he arrived at college, he became a team sensation. He was the Big West Defensive Player of the Year in both 2014 and 2016, and also a conference first-teamer last season.
N’Diaye ranks first in career blocks in Big West history with 218. Last season, he was first in rebounds, defensive rating and two-point field goals made in the conference. He makes several other appearances in the top 10 as well.