Badou Ba has played organized basketball for only a few years, but the Dakar, Senegal native has quietly and quickly made his mark in MIAC men’s basketball.
Twice this season, the 6′ 7″ forward from Macalester won the league’s men’s basketball defensive player of the week honors, including the Nov. 28 weekly award for helping the Scots defeat Saint Mary’s on the road, 77-76, on Nov. 22, with three blocks and eight rebounds. Ba also added 14 points to match his career high. Six of his eight rebounds in the win came on the defensive glass.
During a home win over Augsburg on Nov. 19, Ba had a career 13 rebounds-14 points performance, along with five blocks. At that game, where the MSR was in attendance, Ba patrolled the paint like he owned it. If he didn’t block the opponent’s shot, he made them think twice and often influenced several misses.
“We feel he’s the strongest, most physical big in our league,” Macalester HC Abe Woldeslassie told us afterward. Ever since we saw him at a preseason practice a year ago, Woldeslassie has bragged on Ba, and the bragging has not been in vain as the forward has shown steady improvement.
“It’s only his fourth year of playing basketball,” noted the coach. “You’re seeing the development almost from week to week.”
The soft-spoken Ba credits the trust and faith the Scots coaching staff have in him. “I think I’ve watched so much film with my coaching staff that I just wanted to [improve],” he said after his career performance against the visiting Augsburg. “If I try my best and focus, the rest will come.”
The son of a career diplomat, Ba has traveled all over the world with his mother as a youngster. “I met a lot of people,” he recalled. “I just listen to everyone and just try to do my best.”
Ba eventually settled in the States and went to Williston Northampton (Mass.), a boarding school for grades 7-12. He played basketball, one of the 35 sports that the school offered.
At Macalester, Ba is studying economics and political science. He admits he’s not entirely sure where that will lead him after graduation in a couple of years. “I just really want to travel, be able to keep seeing the world. I feel like I’m lucky to be here.”
“We are very, very lucky to have him here,” said Woldeslassie of Ba. “We’ve talked about how he needs to be a little more aggressive on both ends.” But the coach quickly added that the player’s steady improvement to date can’t be ignored.
“Last year at the start, he really didn’t play a whole lot, and then towards the end of the year he was playing double-digit minutes almost every game,” recalled Woldeslassie. “He is a tremendous defender, shot blocker, a good rebounder that can eventually become a great rebounder. The next step for him—the offensive energy and the offensive physicality and being confident.”
We too like watching Ba exert his presence on the court. As it is said, he only scratches the surface but is showing everyone that he can be one of the MIAC’s most dominant players not only this season but throughout his career at Macalester.
“Since I’ve been here,” concluded Ba, “I’ve had some bad days and good days. But every coach, the seniors, and some alumni have always been in my camp. I just keep working to try my hardest.”