Birima Seck | Arizona State University among first to offer scholarship to Senegalese center

By MASON KERN  | 247Sports

In 2016, Birima Seck made a decision that altered the course of his life’s trajectory. A native of Dakar, Senegal, the capital of the country in West Africa, Seck grew up playing soccer before a massive growth spurt made him consider alternate athletic endeavors. He had good reason, considering he was in the process of blooming into a towering 6-foot-11 frame that led to a transition from kicking a ball on the pitch to dribbling one on the hardwood.

Much like any new undertaking, it took time for Seck to get comfortable playing basketball, although it helped that he could practically dunk without jumping.

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“It was only four years ago, so I can say I started a bit late,” Seck told Sun Devil Source. “But I improved a lot.”

Seck’s rapid development in the sport is evident four years later as his efforts have resulted in collegiate interest in the United States. In fact, Seck said he arrived in America just within the last week, where he is attending Glendale Dream City Christian for his final year of high school eligibility as a member of the 2021 recruiting class. 

Despite never playing a prep basketball game in the U.S., the 18-year-old Senegal native reportedly received his first two college scholarship offers on Oct. 8. Arizona State, one of his new home-state programs, extended such an opportunity, while Seck said South Florida was the other. The Sun Devils currently have one prospect from Dream City Christian committed in the 2021 cycle: three-star guard Demari Williams.

“My coach called me and then he said I got an offer from ASU,” Seck said. “I appreciate (it) a lot and then I was really happy to know I have the possibility to play with the university.”

It was not the first time that Seck had been introduced to the system of American college basketball, though. After beginning his hoops journey in 2016, Seck said he attended a basketball camp where he was put on the radar of the coaches at the Canterbury School in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

Seck said he decided to pursue that opportunity and played with the program for the last two years before electing to take the American collegiate route with the goal of making it to the NBA.


“I was playing in Spain two years and then I got a lot of opportunity to come to the U.S.,” Seck said. “And also I had the opportunity to play professional, but I took the decision to come over here and to play with this high school because I want to get to college and then follow my goals.”

Throughout his time playing for the Canterbury Lions, Seck said he was in contact with several U.S. college programs, but none of those talks resulted in tangible scholarship opportunities.

“A lot of coaches spoke to me when I was in Spain,” Seck said. “For example, the Texas coach (Shaka Smart) and then San Diego (Sam Scholl). I already talk with a lot of coaches, but I didn’t say anything like, for example, ‘I’m going here, I’m going there.’”

When he agreed to attend Dream City Christian, Seck said he was under the initial impression that he would graduate as a part of the 2022 class. However, he said he found out this week that he will actually receive his high school diploma in 2021. He intends on having his recruitment unfold slowly as he figures out how to navigate life in America.

“I’m just waiting and focusing on my last year from high school,” Seck said. “That’s the goal. I have to focus this year and then graduate and then we will see. I didn’t talk yet about that — when we are going to make the decision — with my coaches.

“I think I’ll take my time before I make a decision because for sure they will talk to me. For example, today I was talking to them, so they will find out when is a great moment. I don’t know so many things here. If it was Europe, I have a lot of experience there. But here, I don’t have a lot of experience.”

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Despite only living in the United States for around a week — he is staying with a teammate that lives roughly 10 minutes away from campus — Seck expressed his gratitude for having a chance to achieve his dreams at what he considers to be the highest level of competition for the level of basketball he is currently playing.

“Two years ago I didn’t understand anything in English,” he said. “I improved a lot. I came here just one week (ago) and then I didn’t know yet the life and then the style. But I see the basketball is totally different to Europe. I’m really happy to be here because I know here I can improve a lot because I feel like here is very competitive.”

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As a 6-foot-11 center recruit currently unranked on the 247Sports Composite and by the network’s individual assessment, Seck said his game is not limited to an interior post presence. While he is continuing to improve his three-point stroke, he said his offensive versatility and defensive prowess are his biggest strong suits.

“I have a lot of skills because in Spain, I was playing sometimes [shooting guard], sometimes I was playing [small forward],” Seck said. “I can play inside, I can play outside, so it’s an advantage. And then I’m quicker, so I have a lot of skills. And then I know how to shoot the ball, the coaches like I’m a great defender because I can guard the people smaller than me. I know how to kill a player 1-on-1.”

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Seck is not the only Senegalese-born prospect the Sun Devils have offered a scholarship to in the 2021 class, either, as they did the same for Louisville (Ky.) Aspire Basketball Academy forward Mouhamed Lamine Mbaye Aug. 23. Seck said the two know each other and have an on-court relationship as well.

“We had a big relationship because we were playing together in our national team,” Seck said. “We have a relationship, but it’s been a long time that I didn’t talk to him. But he’s a good guy, he’s a good kid.”

And while he does not yet know where he will play his college basketball, Seck knows what he is looking for.

“I prefer to go to one college that I will have a lot of time to play because it’s very important,” he said. “And then academically, also, I think all of the colleges are good academically, but it’s very important for me to have time to play because if you don’t play, you don’t improve. I need to go one college that I am sure that I will play.”

Read from source 247Sports