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April 27, 2012
Shenandoah Valley Christian is home to one of the more unique basketball prospects in the entire state. Seven-foot-tall center Pape Mor Sal came to the United States from a needy background in Senegal with no parents.
It was noticeable right off the bat that he had quite a bit of potential, and programs at the next level were intrigued. Pape has decided that he will play at the next level for the University of Virginia's College at Wise.
"When he came to our program, he didn't have a great deal of experience and had to learn basketball and develop. He still has a ways to go, some improvement to make and is rough around the edges, but is a great defender and a terrific shot blocker. I think they're getting a really good player and he'll continue to learn," stated Shenandoah Valley Christian Head Basketball Coach Ron Combs.
On several occasions, Pape was a threat to go for a triple-double. He averaged 7.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 10.0 blocks per game. What clearly separates him from a lot of players is his height, then being able to utilize it to impact the game on a possession by possession basis.
"While he wasn't a great scorer, he prevented people from scoring with blocked shots and changing shots," Combs added. "He's developed his skills as far as his shot blocking timing being so good and intimidates a lot of people. He's going to be a big asset for UVA-Wise."
It's rare to find 7-footers, especially ones putting up the numbers that Pape is and be so raw with upside. Division I programs expressed in him. In fact, George Mason actually came down on New Year's Eve to watch him for a workout. What prevented him from going on to D-1 were the academic requirements.
Dealing with the "French to English translation," as Combs noted, Pape didn't quite the SAT score needed, despite the fact he has a 3.3 GPA and is in the top 50% in his class.
UVA-Wise has been coached the past 16 years by Lee Clark. The team finished with a record of 9-16 overall, 6-9 in conference past last season. They also recently landed another Virginia product in Benedictine 5-foot-11 point guard Charles George, a three-year starter for the Cadets.
Currently, UVA-Wise competes in the NAIA's Mid-South Conference. That could soon be changing, however. The school is in the process of making the move from NAIA to Division II, and if admitted, would begin participation in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference effective in 2013-14.
Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him on the VirginiaPreps.com Hour every Saturday at 11AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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