Ever since he first started seriously playing basketball at age 14, Senegalese big man Assane Sene , one of the newest Cavaliers, knew he wanted to come to the United States to play.
“When I was like 14, I was getting tall,” Sene said. “When I was at that point, everyone said you’re getting tall. If you’re getting tall, you should play basketball and you can go to the U.S.”
Struggling, however, with the thought of leaving behind everything he’d ever known, Sene put off coming to the U.S. for a few years.
He was recruited by South Kent Preparatory School (CT) and traveled to the U.S. He knew then he had to come if he wanted to accomplish his goal of playing in the NBA.
“When I was like 17, I was saying it’s time to go,” Sene said. “I’m getting big. People started telling me, ‘Boy you have a chance. You’ve got to go do your thing.'”
When he touched down in the United States, however, he encountered another great obstacle: the language barrier. Having only spoken English on average two hours a week prior to coming to the States, Sene was frustrated by his inability to communicate.
“I remember the first time I came it was hard,” he said. “I didn’t know what my teammates were saying. The way they were talking fast. Especially being young with the slang that they use.”
That lack of communication causes mistakes on the court, Sene said, which leads to not playing. Recognizing the need, South Kent placed Sene in special ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and even arranged for a tutor.
“My high school, they helped me a lot to improve my English” he said. “They were saying I’m the big man on the team. They need me in the game.”
While his English has improved greatly, Sene still isn’t satisfied.
“I’m not going to say that I speak English really well,” he said. “I know I will need it one day. Nothing is easy in life. Especially when English is your second...
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