Niang thrives as undersized guard at D-II Simon Fraser after transfer from community college

first_imgSango Niang could hardly get on the court in high school. He sat on the bench, was cut from the team and transferred schools only to make the junior varsity team.To motivate himself, he’d go to the gym three times a day on his own, just to work on his game. But even as a senior, he hardly got on the court. “It was disappointing knowing it was my last year and seeing everybody getting like offers and stuff and just knowing that I can’t help the team,” Niang said. “It just sucked.”After a fruitless high school career and a small stature led to no college interest, Niang attended Chaffey (California) Community College and joined the basketball team. There, his success led to Division I attention. After two years at Chaffey, Niang transferred to Simon Fraser University (11-14, 6-11 Great Northwest Athletic) to play D-II basketball. He’s now tied for 12th in the nation with 22.7 points per game and with one game to go in his senior season, is just 38 points shy of the 1,000-point mark.“He’s had a great scoring career,” Simon Fraser head coach James Blake said. “He’s had a great assists career. He’s done a good job running our club the last two years and we’ve just been lucky to have him.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEvery day in high school, he would go to the gym at least three times and workout alone, using YouTube videos as guides. But the work wasn’t translating into playing time.Chaffey head coach Jeff Klein said that even as a 17-year old, Niang looked like he was 12. He guessed his weight was no more than 130 pounds. “He just wasn’t very big,” Blake said. “He’s really small. … We list him at 6 foot, but I’m 6 foot and I’m two inches taller.”When junior year rolled around, Niang tried out again, but still didn’t make the team and transferred to Summit (California) High School, where he landed on the junior varsity squad.Four hours of practice everyday with the JV and varsity teams gained him a varsity spot for his senior season, but he barely stepped on the court during games.There was no collegiate interest in a bench player without any exposure, so Niang went to the closest community college to his home and assumed he would redshirt.“He really didn’t have any confidence, he didn’t think he could do it,” Klein said. “If he couldn’t do it in high school and play, what makes him think he could do it at the college level?”But Klein saw Niang’s talents, convincing him not to sit out another year, and let him earn a starting spot for the first time in his career.Niang emailed Blake a YouTube video of him dunking three times in a game and was soon committed to Simon Fraser.“I never thought I was going to get any offers so I signed before my sophomore year even started,” Niang said. “I didn’t want to take anything for granted.”During a game his sophomore year Niang hit a buzzer-beater to knock off undefeated City College of San Francisco and send Chaffey to the state finals, piquing the interest of several Division I coaches.But Niang stuck with Simon Fraser.In the Drew League in California last summer, Niang scored 24 points against a team led by NBA All-Star James Harden. “Niang, you’re nice, but you’re not that nice,” Blake recalls Harden telling Niang. “You’ve got a long way to go.”But Niang has already come so far, and he’s not afraid of how much further he has to go. Said Niang: “All I need is a chance and I think I’ll be able to impress them … prove to everyone that I belong.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 25, 2015 at 12:06 am Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettuslast_img

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