Los Angeles, CA – On Saturday, November 29th, UC Irvine visited Loyola Marymount for an early season non-conference game. Scouts for seven NBA teams were in the house, since Irvine has one of the most unique players to enter college basketball in many years; 7’6″, 290-pound sophomore, Mamadou Ndiaye, the tallest player in college basketball. Ndiaye has garnered NBA attention during his two years in the NCAA with his imposing presence, averaging 9.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks in only 20 minutes of playing time per game. He had two games last year when he had double figures in blocks, and set a UCI and Big West Conference record against Long Beach State with 11. Last year his 70 percent field-goal percentage was also impressive. His least impressive statistics are his free-throw percentage (42.6 percent), and his three assists as compared to 37 turnovers for the year. Last year, he had a streak of 25 straight field-goal makes. In this game, the scouts had to be impressed, since he scored his career high of 21 points, making 10-of-11 shots from the field, and 1-of-2 from the free throw line, with five blocks on defense.
Although the scouts came to see Ndiaye, they also seemed to be pleasantly surprised by the play of LMU 6’1″ sophomore guard, Evan Payne. Payne is an extremely athletic guard with explosive jumping ability, who has improved on an excellent freshman season (15.5 ppg) by averaging 21.7 ppg over the first six games this year. In this 80-72 loss to UCI, Payne was the player who kept LMU competitive, scoring 23 points. He has no fear in attacking the basket against the big guys, and can also pull up quickly off the dribble, elevate, and make the mid-range jumper. LMU can expect the NBA scouts to return to evaluate his progress.
Both Ndiaye and Payne made this an exciting night of NCAA college basketball.
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